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*Entrust Uses Children's Voting to Target Gov't Business for E-Signatures

Children in California's Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties are mimicking adults nationwide by casting their ballots online in favor of Vice President Al Gore or Texas Gov. George W. Bush, a tactic devised by Entrust Technologies Inc. to rouse interest in its e-commerce products.

Through a partnership with Kids Voting California, a private, nonprofit, grass-roots organization, Entrust is allowing children to register online through Election Day, gain a secure digital signature and enter their choice for president on a designated Web site via computers at home, in school or in polling stations.

Results of the children's vote will be relayed to schools just before the official election outcome is announced tomorrow.

This children's voting initiative is expected to display Entrust's readiness in dealing with privacy, security and information dissemination issues, targeted at e-signatures and future authorized online voting measures.

“One of our main verticals [are] the state and local governments,” said Paul Doscher, executive vice president of marketing and business development at Entrust, a Santa Clara, CA, e-commerce software and services company.

“So by showing initiative here, when it comes to national and state referendums around online voting, we can create this kind of momentum that shows we can support these initiatives and therefore create a tremendous market opportunity for us.”

Entrust software was used to implement digital signature legislation in countries such as India and South Korea. The U.S. Census Bureau became a new client, Entrust announced last week.

Entrust technology offers identifiers, or digital certificates, that recognize individuals, along with security checks and digital signature capability to make an online transaction legally binding.

“One of the key markets that we see with a lot of the legislation that's coming both at the state and federal level is around e-signature, and we see this as creating a tremendous opportunity for us to be very visible as the government continues to put regulations out there that drive Internet transactions,” Doscher said.

For the children's voting initiative, Entrust gained the cooperation of hundreds of schools in California cities such as Sacramento, Santa Cruz, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Clara. Students in these schools mock voted in March for Gore over Bush during state primaries — one of the first secure online voting projects in the country, according to Entrust.

Support for the previous online voting initiative, as well as for the current one, comes from California Secretary of State Bob Jones and Warren Slocum, Santa Clara County registrar of voters. Kids Voting California was behind the effort to pass legislation that made it legal for children to enter polling stations.

In the current voting push, students visit the Kids Voting California site at www.kidsvotingcalifornia.com and gain an encrypted unique identification by linking to an Entrust-created sub-site at vote.encommerce.com/kidsvote. They then return to the sub-site, enter their identifying code and vote.

Once the votes are cast online at home, in school, or in the polling station with an adult, this information is downloaded from the Entrust sub-site to a temporary memory that identifies the digital signature.

“The reason it only goes into temporary memory is that when they go log off, it goes away, and nobody else can come up behind them and pretend they're the person [who voted],” said Chris Johnson, who is head of technology at Entrust.

The results will be tallied tomorrow by Entrust and Kids Voting California and relayed to the media and schools before the adults' results are out. Entrust encryption technology is used throughout the process.

“California seems to be quite progressive in this, and the education system here really wanted to seize the opportunity of the national election as the focus around which to try and help educate the kids [about democracy],” Doscher said.

“What it does for us is to establish our ability to secure information on the Web and create a personal and private experience for somebody in whatever aspect of the e-commerce world they participate in,” he said.

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