Recently, a group of researchers, Hari Prasad, Rop Gonggrijp and J. Alex Halderman, demonstrated serious security vulnerabilities in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) being used by India. The EVMs, which were introduced by the Election Commission in 2004, were found to suffer from serious weaknesses that can be used by anyone with physical access to manipulate the outcome of the election. In spite of working demonstrations by the researchers, the Election Commission still maintains that the EVMs are secure and tamper proof.
Unfortunately, being ignorant and blind isn’t the Indian government’s biggest crime. Halderman revealed in a blog post that his colleague, Hari Prasad has been arrested by the police. The authorities appear to be interested in uncovering the source who supplied the voting machine to the researchers. Halderman maintains that the voting machine was supplied by an anonymous source who had rightful access to it. The EVM in question was earlier reported as stolen by the Collector’s office at Mumbai.
On inquiring with the officials there, it was learnt that Waimuru brought the machine himself and the channel had nothing to do with it. It was also learnt that Waimuru had gone to Nashik earlier this year. He met a local leader and a social activist there who gave him the machine. Moreover, it came to light that a government official believed to be working in the Old Customs House had given the said machine to the local leader,an official informed DNA. Hari Prasad has been remanded to the police custody till August 26.
While the Indian police is quite possibly well within its rights to try and track down the source of the leak, there is a real possibility that the government is simply trying to silence its critics. The researchers exposed the Election Commission and broadcasted their ignorance, incompetence and stupidity to the world. I can’t help by notice that the government is being more proactive in closing the source of leak than rectifying the serious problems plaguing the EVMs.