Every time there is some expose, there is an attempt to shoot the messengers. That a research paper prepared by Hari Prasad, Alex Halderman (Asst. Professor, University of Michigan) and Rop Gonggrijp (Dutch expert) et al. on on their EVM demonstration has been chosen for presentation at an international conference on computer security to be held in Chicago is significant. Read the Hindustan Times report here.
Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS) is the one of the world’s most highly rated computer security conferences. Being selected for presentation at this conference is in itself regarded as evidence that the paper has solid research value. Not just that. The paper on Indian EVMs had received the highest score in its rankings thus making it the best paper to be submitted from this year’s submissions. Check it out yourself at the following link.
Does anyone need more to establish that the tamperability demonstration by these technical experts was a genuine and a solid piece of research work? If the ECI still claims that its EVMs are “fully tamper proof,” why doesn’t it offer itself for pubic demonstration in the presence of the public and the media? Why does the ECI want the demonstrations to be held only within its premises? The answer is clear: because it’s unsustainable claims will be exposed, in full public glare. Hari Prasad’s arrest is an attempt to harass and intimidate him and other co-researchers for making public their scientific findings that showing the ECI’s atrocious claims to be totally untrue.
Now let me turn attention to the international conspiracy theories being floated about. There are many mysterious aspects of EVMs that also need to be probed so that the truth about EVMs becomes known to the public. Let me list a few for the moment. I hope the ECI comes out with answers to these rather than imagine conspiracies elsewhere.
Why have two foreign companies been involved by the BEL and ECIL in fusing the EVM software into microchips as it involves a huge security risk for Indian elections when the same process could have been done securely within these companies’ premises?
Why has the “secret” software in the EVMs not been given even to the Election Commission of India? Do the BEL and ECIL suspect the integrity of the Election Commission of India (ECI) or its experts?
Why is the ECI so considerate about the commercial interests of the BEL and ECIL when it should be guided by only the interests of the Indian public in ensuring free and fair elections? In this regard, how did the ECI concede the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over the EVMs to their manufacturers? Isn’t it silly that the companies that have developed the EVMs at the behest of the ECI and as per its requirements have unfettered IPR rights over them?
By surrendering all the functions involving the manufacturing, checking and maintaining the EVMs to the same public sector undertakings (PSUs), isn’t the ECI running the risk of manipulation of elections by insiders in these companies? Why were checks and balances not considered by involving some other governmental agencies like the NIC in checking of EVMs in the field?
Why did the ECI scrap the “authentication unit” project after it was developed, tested and proved to be successful? The authentication unit is a device that helps in ascertaining whether the software in the EVM is original or tampered with. It also helps to assess whether the EVM is the original machine or has been replaced by a fake one to commit election fraud.
Hari Prasad’s arrest has exposed the ECI much more than it did any good to it. Many uncomfortable questions arise for which ECI must give answers.
How come the ECI and its district level officials did not know that an EVM was missing from its godowns for more than two months until a video recording of the machine was shown on a TV station?
How is it that the ECI arrested Hari Prasad for having merely used an EVM made available to him for demonstration for a very brief period when it has let its own officers in-charge of security of EVMs go scot-free?
The metropolitan judge hearing Hari Prasad’s case observed that the charges of theft, trespassing and breaking into premises do not apply as he was not involved in stealing the machine. The honorable judge said whatever Hari Prasad had done was in public interest and involves 100 crore people of the country. As there were no dishonest intentions on his part, the Judge observed that the ECI should examine Hari Prasad’s scientific evidence rather than proceed in this manner.
May we request the ECI to siege the opportunity to have a public debate over the issue? The ECI had agreed for a public debate over Indian EVMs with experts in far away Washington D.C on August 9 this year. Two ECI representatives namely, Dr. Alok Shukla, deputy election commissioner and Prof. P.V. Indiresan, chairman of the expert committee on EVMs participated in this panel discussion. How is it that the ECI had no qualms having a panel discussion with the same experts that they now accuse of being part of an “international conspiracy”?
Hari Prasad’s arrest brought the issue to national focus. The manner it was done has shocked the general public and technologists in particular and raised uncomfortable questions over the ECI’s role in the issue. The ECI’s claim of “fully tamper proof” EVMs does not have many takers any longer. Its own standing as an autonomous institution has also taken a big knock. It is time the ECI realized this hard reality and reformed its ways.
I can be reached at nrao@indianEVM.com