Updated: Looks like the concerns raised about national security from several quarters including Infosec Consortium have had their effect. Election commission has decided that they will not go ahead with the proposed tie-up with Google for Voter Registrations as announced earlier. According to ToI, a senior official has commented, “After due consideration, the commission has decided not to pursue it any further,”.
I think EC has taken the right step to abort this partnership!
EC Tie-up With Google Threat To National Security Says InfoSec Consortium, Asks It To Put On Hold!
Last week, Election Commission of India made headlines, when they announced that they are entering in partnership with Google for online voter registrations. While many welcomed this decision, Indian cyber security experts were not happy with this tie-up.
Group of leading security experts who have come together to form Indian InfoSec Consortium held a press conference in Delhi to voice their displeasure. They were of the opinion that allowing voter registration data on Google servers means that EC is directly handing them sensitive demographic data of millions of Indian citizens on a platter.
They have urged Election Commission of India to immediately put this tie-up with Google on hold. As a solution, Indian InfoSec Consortium has also offered to provide solution for online voter registration completely free of cost to EC if they desire. Here is the verbatim statement released by InfoSec Consortium at the press conference.
Indian InfoSec Consortium Press Release
Issue of trust on American companies in wake of disclosures by Edward Snowden
It is shocking that in a country like India which is called worlds software superpower, Election Commission instead of an Indian Company has chosen a foreign company like Google, which has colluded with American Intelligence agencies like NSA( National Security Agency) for Global Cyber spying, to provide electoral registration and facilitation services by providing them the whole database of registered voters in India.
This will pose a unprecedented security risk to India, as this data is bound to be surely misused by Google and American agencies for cyber espionage and other surveillance operations by United States.
It has been absolutely clear after the Edward Snowden (NSA contractor) leaks in recent months that National Security Agency of United states has been conducting Cyber espionage and technical surveillance across the world through every single means of resources and data available.
American Companies including Google have been assisting NSA to conduct cyber espionage and surveillance operations by providing complete access to personal data of their users available on their servers. Above facts which are in the public domain and have also been on record accepted by Presidents of United States of America
Possible Threat to India and misuse of data
Not only has EC decided to make the existing voter database available to Google but they have also reportedly tied up with them to provide online voter registration services. As we are aware that online voter registration form includes personal details like Name, address, Phone numbers, email ids age and family details but to bring it to your notice it will also result in reviling cyber identities of voters to Google like the surfing history, online activities, email and social media accounts and ip addresses too.
This huge amount of personal information that can be easily used to survey upon the targets as per the wishes of American agencies and the break into their systems if necessary.
Google may not only use this information for their advertisements programs which are based on such user details but can also conduct other activities like electoral surveys for American agencies which may at some stage be used to, alter, affect or formulate public opinions in India.
Google’s recent survey on most searched political personalities in India is one such example, which can surely result in changing public perceptions and opinions of electorate.
In light of the above concerns the INDIAN INFOSEC CONSORTIUM requests EC to put this tie-up immediately on hold and ensure that no data of any kind is transferred to Google or any other foreign company. For any further steps IIC recommends EC to seek Security clearance from designated cyber security agencies.
We are also offering to provide indigenous solution for online voter registration service free of cost in Election commission of India may so desire.
What are our views on this?