Google makes presentation to EC for controversial tie-up

Google aims at partnering with EC for voter facilitation services ahead of LS polls.

New Delhi: Internet giant Google today made a formal presentation to the Election Commission proposing a tie-up with it for voter facilitation services ahead of Lok Sabha elections, a move questioned by several quarters citing security concerns.

The Election Commission has said it has "not" signed any agreement with the US-based internet company so far on voter facilitation initiatives ahead of polls.

In its presentation before the EC today, in which Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, Election Commissioners H S Brahma and S N A Zaidi and other top officials were present, Google proposed providing its search engines free of cost to Indian voters during the 2014 general elections.

Google also proposed free online voter registration besides making available vital details of Voter EPIC card numbers and polling station location.

Congress and BJP besides some cyberspace experts have voiced concers over the proposed tie-up of Election Commission with Google for voter facilitation services, saying stakeholders should have been consulted before a decision.

The Congress legal cell has written to the Chief Election Commissioner raising security concerns over the proposed tie- up and hoped it will not have any effect on the electoral process and national security.

"It seems to be a very sensitive issue.... It seems to have been done without consulting all stakeholders," AICC Secretary K C Mittal, who is incharge of Congress legal and human rights department, has said in a letter to CEC.

BJP also expressed concerns and said the issue could have been discussed first at an all-party meeting by EC.

"Though we do not doubt the intentions of the Election Commission. The matter could have been first discussed with various stakeholders at the all-party meeting before taking a final decision.... It does raise some security concerns," BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had said.

Security concerns on the tie-up between EC and Google were also raised by a group of cybersecurity experts who have questioned the poll body's move. The experts have written to the EC amid concerns over sharing of vital data pertaining to Indians to a foreign company.

The concerns also come at a time when eyebrows have been raised over sharing of other vital data of Indians with the United States in light of exposes about widespread intelligence gathering by the US agencies exposed by Edward Snowden.

( Source : PTI )
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