EC turns down Google’s proposal for voter registration tool

Election Commission has decided not to pursue its proposed tie-up with internet giant Google after concerns over national security were raised from several quarters, including major parties. File photo

Election Commission has decided not to pursue its proposed tie-up with internet giant Google after concerns over national security were raised from several quarters, including major parties. File photo  

The Election Commission on Thursday turned down the proposal of the U.S. based internet search engine Google to have an “electoral look up services for citizens” even as BJP Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay made a forceful plea before the Commission to abort any such proposal.

“Google made a presentation to the Commission for electoral look up services for citizens to help in its efforts for better electoral information services. However, after due consideration, the Commission has decided not to pursue the proposal any further,” an EC press note said.

Mr. Vijay, who submitted a memorandum to Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath and Election Commissioner H.S. Brahma, wanted them to reject the Google’s proposal as it would be against the interests of the nation and its security.

“Google’s activities have been violating the Indian laws governing mapping policy and I have raised the issue before the Defence Minister and an enquiry is pending. The CBI and the Delhi police are seized of the matter,” he claimed.

An FIR had been lodged with the approval of the Government of India by the Surveyor-General of India in Delhi against the security violations by Google India private limited relating to national map restriction policy, he alleged.

Later Mr. Vijay told The Hindu that the defence experts and the intelligence agencies were too worried about the growing clout of Google and its explicit American connections in view of the U.S. National Security Agency’s snooping activities in India.

Google India’s representatives made presentation before the Commission on Tuesday in which the National Information Centre officials were present.

A senior officer of the Commission had on Wednesday told The Hindu : “First we should feel comfortable before finalising anything and we don’t want to get heckled in the election year. Nothing has been decided and it is only at preliminary stage.”

The Google, earlier in a statement, said it did not intend to make voter registration tool for India and had only made suggestions to the Commission on improving such a tool based on its own experience with making products that were easy to use.

The Google’s presentation was about “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.”

Google had already helped governments of some countries to make their public election information more accessible to voters.

“No private information changes hands — this is all about making public information that’s already on the Web more useful to the public... Our discussions with EC have been preliminary and ongoing,” the Google statement said.

Besides the BJP and a few cyber experts who have expressed concern on the EC-Google tie-up, the legal cell of the Congress had written a letter to the EC raising security concerns.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 9:22:25 PM |

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