India's election body drops Google project

Election Commission of India rejects Google’s proposal after opposition from political parties raising fears of spying.

    India's election body drops Google project
    India will go to polls in April-May when 150 million first-time voters between ages 18-35 will cast their votes [EPA]

    The Election Commission (ECI) of India has backed out from a proposal by Google to have its search engines do an "electoral look up services for citizens" after being opposed by politicians and experts.

    Major Indian political parties, including the Congress and BJP, protested saying that it would hinder "national security" according to reports.

    The world's largest democracy will go to polls in April-May when 150 million first-time voters between ages 18-35 will cast their votes.

    The US based internet search engine giant had made a presentation to the ECI and National Information Centre officials "to help the Commission for better electoral information services".

    Dhirendra Ojha, director of Election Commission in a press statement said, "After due consideration, the Commission has decided not to pursue the proposal any further."

    BJP member of parliament, Tarun Vijay, submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission heads to reject Google’s proposal.

    "Google's activities have been violating Indian laws governing mapping policy and I have raised the issue before the Defence Minister and an enquiry is pending," he was quoted as saying by The Hindu newspaper.

    Security violations scare

    Vijay is reported to have cited the example of the Surveyor-General of India who lodged a complaint with the police recently alleging Google of security violations relating to national map restriction policy.

    The Congress party too is reported to have submitted a letter to the EC objecting to the proposed tie up between Google and the ECI.

    Infosec Consortium, a government and private group of cyber security experts, also expressed their reservation as they said Google would join hands "with American agencies" for spying, according to Reuters.

    Google on its part explained in a statement that it had only made suggestions to the Election Commission to "changing the way users access their electoral information that is publicly available, which would make their experience simpler, faster and consistent through a national online look-up tool".

    The intention was not to make a voter registration tool, the statement clarified. "Google is committed to help make public information on the web easily accessible to internet users across the country."

    In the past Google is reported to have helped make public election information to voters in other countries.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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