Create system to nab
uninsured motorists


Counties have proposed that insurance companies be required to notify police of all car insurance cancellations and expirations.

HAWAII legislators in the 1990s considered and rejected a proposal that insurance companies notify police whenever an automobile insurance policy is canceled or not renewed. As a result, far too many motorists in Hawaii are uninsured, creating a risk to those who have diligently kept their car insurance policies current. Technological problems that may have explained the lawmakers' rejection of the proposal a decade ago no longer exist, and the reporting system should be installed.

A 1999 state task force headed by then-Insurance Commissioner Ray Graulty estimated that 15 percent of Hawaii automobile drivers did not have insurance. A year later, the task forced revised its estimate to 25 percent, nearer to earlier assumptions that the figure was somewhere around one-third of all motorists. That level of lawlessness should not be tolerated.

Graulty said at the time that the main drawback in developing a computerized system would be the expense of setting up and maintaining a database, even though stiff fines against motorists violating the mandatory-insurance law could have defrayed the costs. The system envisioned would have allowed police to try matching the names of drivers pulled over with those of insured motorists; a non-match would have exposed the uninsured.

Years later, insurance companies, like most other businesses, typically are computerized and online. The City Council passed a resolution in November asking the Legislature to create the system requiring insurers to notify police of policy cancellations and refusals of new policies. Other counties also have included the proposal in their legislative packages.

The Council pointed out that an insured motorist involved in a collision with an uninsured motorist who caused the accident may have to rely on his own insurance to pay for damage to his car. The cost of the insured motorist's policy may be increased as a result. Many of the uninsured motorists have been convicted of drunken driving and are unwilling to pay the increased cost of insurance, but they keep on driving.

Today police often are unable to spot uninsured motorists. A car owner whose policy has been canceled or revoked can retain the no-fault ID card and present it to police at a traffic stop or accident scene. The officer has no way of knowing that the policy is void, and so doesn't cite the offending motorist. A reporting system would eliminate that deficiency.


Internet voting faces
critical test in Hawaii


Experts have criticized a system to be used by overseas U.S. residents casting ballots via the Internet to Hawaii and six other states.

MILITARY personnel and other Hawaii voters overseas are slated to vote in this year's primary and general elections via the Internet. Computer security experts say the experiment is full of risk, but the Pentagon-sponsored system is going full speed ahead in Hawaii and six other states, including -- of all places -- Florida of dangling chad infamy. The system should be monitored closely before being expanded.

The $22 million system, called the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment, or Serve, was financed by the Defense Department. It is restricted to voters overseas using personal computers to vote using the Internet. Up to 100,000 people are expected to use the system this year in the seven states signed up to participate but probably fewer than 100 in Hawaii, based on the number of absentee votes from overseas in recent elections. Most military personnel who are stationed in Hawaii and deployed overseas vote in their home states.

A panel of computer experts hired by the government to assess the Serve system concluded that it is "vulnerable to a variety of well-known cyber attacks -- insider attacks, denial of service attacks, spoofing, automated vote buying, viral attacks on voter PCs, etc. -- any one of which could be catastrophic." As a result, the experts recommended shutting down the system "and not attempting anything like it in the future until both the Internet and the world's home computer infrastructure have been fundamentally redesigned, or some other security breakthroughs appear."

Glenn Flood, a Defense Department spokesman, said the Pentagon "stands by the Serve program. We feel it's right on, at this point, and we're going to use it." Likewise, Dwayne Yoshina, Hawaii's chief elections officer, told the Washington Post after reading the report that Hawaii will participate.

The critical report, it should be noted, was authored by only four of the 10 outside experts asked to review the system, the other six having been absent at two three-day briefings on the system. One of those six, Ted Selker, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the report reflects the professional paranoia of security researchers.

"That's their job," Selker said, adding, "Every single election machine I've seen, including the lever machine, including punch card machines, including paper ballots, has vulnerabilities."



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