Internet giant was to be roped in for online voter tool but drew flak
US-based Google had earlier this week made a formal presentation to the EC proposing a tie-up with it for voter facilitation services ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
The EC, in its meeting here on Thursday, which was attended by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath and Election Commissioners H S Brahma and S N A Zaidi, deliberated on the issue and decided to scrap the plan.
“After due consideration, the EC has decided not to pursue it any further,” said an EC official. EC said Google had proposed to provide electoral look up services for citizens to help in the Commission’s efforts for better electoral information services.
The EC had earlier signed a non-disclosure agreement with Google but had not shared or handed over any data to the Internet giant so far and was deliberating on the tie-up for using its search engines for voter facilitation.
The Congress and the BJP besides some cyberspace experts, had voiced concerns over the proposed tie-up, 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.
The BJP also expressed concerns and said the issue could have been discussed first at an all-party meeting by EC. Questioning the EC’s move, a group of cyber security experts had written to the panel 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 leaking of vital data of Indians to United States intelligence agencies as exposed by Edward Snowden.
Responding to the EC’s decision to reject its proposal, Google said it was “unfortunate” that its talks with the EC were not fruitful.
“Google is committed to help make public information on the web easily accessible to Internet users across the country. Google has already helped governments in this regard in several countries, including the Philippines, Egypt, Mexico and Kenya.”It is unfortunate that our discussion with the EC to change the way users access their electoral information, that is publicly available, through online voter look up tool, were not fruitful,” a Google spokesman, said adding the firm will continue to develop tools and resources to make civic information universally accessible and will be open to new avenues for engagement with politicians, citizens and civic leaders.