There has been an intese discussion on EVMs in India after the arrest of Hariprasad who was involved in a demonstration of the vulnnerability of the EVMs.

The issues raised fall into the following categories.

1.Was it ethical to arrest Mr Hariprasad whose intention was only to alert the GOI on the technical issues involved in security?

2.Is the vulnerability of EVM an issue which comes under ITA 2008?

3. Are there any solutions for maintaining confidentiality of voting along with keeping a paper trail?

Naai has been in the forefront of discussing the cyber law compliance of EVMs ever since the ITA 2000 eas enacted. Some of his earlier writings can be accessed at http://www.naavi.org/cl_editorial_04/edit_03_mayl_04_02.htm

Now in continuation of what was stated earlier it is necessary to express the followign views.

1. Was it right for Hariprasad to be arrested?

Hariprasad has been arrested under charges of “Theft” of an EVM. The fact that EVM was stolen is indisputable. It is also not in dispute that Hariprasad was in posession of the stolen property. But it is not clear if he was arrested for being in posession of the stolen property or for stealing itself? It appears that Hariprasad stated that the machine was given by some body else whose identity he wants to guard. Prima facie therefore it appears that he is guilty of shielding another person who might have stolen the EVM. The charge should therefore have been perhaps under CrPc for not parting with evidence in his posession and not for theft. I tis not clear if suitable procedures were followed in this regard. There is no credible proof that Hariprasad himself could have stolen the EVM.

Havind admitted that Hariprasad was in posesssion of the stolen property and does not want to reveal his source, technically he may be guilty of a minor offence which is perhaps bailable particularly since the stolen property has also been recovered.

The question remains however whether it was ethical to target a person who has not demonstrated any malicious intention except perhaps to expose how the system could be misused.

2. Does EVM come under ITA 2008?

EVM is an electronic device and there is no doubt that it attracts the provisions of ITA 2008. There is no exemption either under the ITA 2008 or under the provisions of laws relating to conduct of elections that EVMs are not subject to ITA 2008.

3. Are there any solutions to maintain confidentiality of elections and transparency?

Naavi has already presened a Cyber Law Compliant solution of EVMs elsewhere and proposed how the machine can be modified to meet the requirements of “Verifyability” without compromising on “Confidentiality”. If BEL or EC is interested, the design can be discussed.

.. More may follow.

Naavi@Naavi.org

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