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Aragon Vote Aims to Restrict Ethereum App from Funding Polkadot Blockchain

Aragon is getting ready to vote on two contentious governance proposals. One encourages expanding operations outside of the ethereum network to include blockchain interoperability platform Polkadot. The other does not. Which proposal will Aragon token holders favor?

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Sierra Leone: What We Got Wrong

Blockchain technology may have the potential to change in the world, but exaggerating its real-world accomplishments can only sow public distrust and set the industry back.

The recent confusion and controversy over the role of Agora, a blockchain startup, in the Sierra Leone presidential election serve as a case in point.

While an Agora executive has taken responsibility for media coverage that overstated its involvement, CoinDesk inadvertently contributed in our initial story, which revealed the news to the world for the first time on March 8.

First, the facts: Agora acted as an international observer in the Sierra Leone election, and it was accredited for this role by the African nation’s National Electoral Commission (NEC). Importantly, Agora did not do the official vote count; that was the NEC’s job.

Rather, it provided an independent count of ballots that the official results could be compared against, and only for the Western district of Sierra Leone, not the whole country. Agora workers on the ground manually recorded its tally on a private blockchain.

That in itself was a first for the technology and a worthy story to report. But many media outlets made it sound like Agora was running the actual election for the government on a blockchain. Unfortunately, CoinDesk was among them.

The original title for our March 8 story, “Sierra Leone Secretly Holds First Blockchain-Powered Presidential Vote,” while vague, could easily have given readers the wrong idea (the adjective was later changed to “Blockchain-Audited”).

Further, the article as initially posted did not note that Agora’s work was confined to the Western district (a detail added after publication), nor did it explicitly spell out the company’s limited role as an observer, again potentially misleading readers.  

It should be noted that CoinDesk did attempt to reach the NEC for comment for that story, but did not hear back by deadline. An additional request has also gone unanswered. And our follow-up article, published on March 10, was much clearer about the scope of Agora’s activities.

Nevertheless, the early coverage across the media has led to “fake news” recriminations (mostly directed at Agora) and generally left a bad taste.

The NEC itself, in a March 19 tweet, flatly stated that it “does not use blockchain in any way.”

Jaron Lukasiewicz, Agora’s chief operating officer and the main source in our March 8 article, issued a mea culpa, telling CoinDesk:   

“I would like to acknowledge that any misunderstandings in the media are my own responsibility, though they were unintentional. I am implementing new processes for future media events covering Agora.”

And when interviewed by reporter Michael del Castillo for that first article, Lukasiewicz indeed spoke imprecisely, and perhaps with a bit of hyperbole, saying things such as this:

You’re looking at a country that you probably wouldn’t normally expect to be the first to use transparent voting tech. But a country like Sierra Leone can ultimately minimize a lot of the fall-out of a highly contentious election by using software like this.”

Nevertheless, we recognize that the ambiguity in the March 8 article likely contributed to the confusion and should have chosen our words more carefully.

CoinDesk continues to strive for the highest journalistic standards, and to raise the bar for integrity, accuracy and clarity in our reporting.

Voters in Sierra Leone image courtesy of Agora.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Moscow's Blockchain Voting Platform Adds Service for High-Rise Neighbors

Moscow is extending its use of a blockchain-based voting platform to the city block level.

Announced today, the municipal government of Russia’s national capital has launched Digital Home, a service allows neighbors in high rises to electronically vote and communicate on issues like whether to replace the building entrance door or hire a new management company.

The service uses Active Citizen, an electronic voting platform that runs on a private version of ethereum.

Each year, Moscow residents hold five thousand to seven thousand face-to-face meetings on such matters, according to a press release issued Wednesday, but such gatherings are getting harder to arrange in a busy urban environment.

“We believe it’s essential to build a convenient environment to allow neighbors to influence the neighborhood they are living in,” said Andrey Belozerov, an advisor to the chief information officer of Moscow. “The pace of life in [big cities] imposes its conditions and it is rather difficult to find a suitable time for everyone and schedule a meeting between neighbors offline.”

Active Citizen launched in 2014 and has amassed more than 2 million users. In that time, it has facilitated 3,510 polls where users voted on subjects like the name for a new metro train and the color of seats in a new sports arena.

Late last year, it began using blockchain technology to make results publicly auditable and assuage concerns about the city’s vote counting.

“Once the vote is placed, it will be listed in a ledger consisting of all votes [that have] taken place across a peer-to-peer network,” according to the city’s public statement. “It will guarantee that the data will not be lost or altered by someone after the vote was casted so there is no chance for fraud or third-party interference.”

Moscow at night image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.