EC drops Google tie-up plan

EC drops Google tie-up plan

The Election Commission (EC) has dropped its plan to rope in US-based internet giant Google to improve electoral information services after cyber security experts and major political parties expressed concerns over security implications of such a tie-up.

“Google made a presentation to the commission for electoral look up services for citizens to help in the efforts of the commission for better electoral information services. However, after due consideration, the commission decided not to pursue the proposal any further,” EC director Dhirendra Ojha said in a release on Thursday.

Google Inc had proposed a tie-up with the EC for voter facilitation services ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The company’s executives made a formal presentation to the poll panel about the proposed tie-up earlier this week.

The proposal, however, triggered concerns about the security implications of the tie-up, with InfoSec Consortium, a group of cyber security experts, questioning the rationale for joining hands with a company that purportedly colluded with the US National Security Agency for global cyber espionage.

Referring to revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, InfoSec Consortium argued that the tie-up would pose an unprecedented security risk to India, as data to be accessed by the internet giant would be vulnerable to misuse by the US agencies.

The EC had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Google, but had not shared or handed over any data to the company, as the apprehensions expressed by the cyber security experts forced it to review the tie-up.

Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath had a meeting with election commissioners H S Brahma and S N A Zaidi and other officials of the panel and finally decided against going ahead with the tie-up.

The Congress too had written to the EC, expressing concerns over the proposal. K C Mittal, who heads the legal cell of the All India Congress Committee, had written to the poll panel, pointing out that such a tie-up should not be finalised without evaluating security risks and holding consultations with all stakeholders.

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