The Malta Independent 17 October 2018, Wednesday

Speaker says online IVF petition ‘back to normal’ after Google system glitch

Rebecca Iversen Monday, 21 May 2018, 19:03 Last update: about 6 months ago

The Speaker of the House, AngluFarrugia, on Monday confirmed that the online petition system is back to normal and up and running after receiving multiple reports that the parliamentary petition against the proposed IVF amendments was impossible to sign.

Speaking to The Malta Independent, Gift of Life Foundation President Paul Vincenti expressed his concerns about the situation, saying that this amounted to a “threat to democracy” and “an attack on freedom of speech.”

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Speaking at the start of Monday’s parliamentary sitting, Farrugia said the system had gone back to normal as from Monday morning, adding that a number of people had signed the petition during the day.

Farrugia said the problem had escalated on Friday and not three weeks ago, as some media houses have claimed.

The Speaker explained that the problem arose due to updates to a system known as reCAPTCHA, which is intended to combat spam and abuse to the system. This had resulted in problems with all online petitions.

However the system was now working well, he said.

Vincenti had remarked on the peculiar patterns of the petition signing. The first week saw some 400-500 signatures entered every day but these suddenly stopped.

Countless messages and screenshots were sent to the Gift of Life Foundation of members of public who were unable to find the petition or who were not allowed to sign the petition.

Vincenti had also called for an independent investigation as to why the parliamentary petition had suffered issues arguing that the Speaker should investigate the Malta Information Technology Authority and any other entity or individual who could shed clarity on the situation.

Speaking in Parliament, Farrugia said only 93 people had signed the petition between 1 May and 17 May.

He noted that some people had signed multiple times due to a loophole in the system. Those who did the sign the petition more than once will be contacted through email, where they will be informed that only their first signature will be accepted, he said.

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