Election Commission mulls legal action against EVM hacker

New Delhi: The Election on Monday rubbished the outlandish claims made by a London-based hacker that electronic voting machines during the 2014 elections were rigged. Refusing to be a party to this “motivated slugfest,” the poll panel asserted that the machines were “fool-proof.” Now, it is examining as to what legal action “can and should” be taken in the matter. A cyber expert, who is seeking political asylum in the US and claims to go by the name Syed Shuja, was to demonstrate in London on Monday how an EVM can be hacked. B

ut the much hyped attempted hacking did not take place. Shuja, who claims to have worked on designing the EVMs used in the 2004 poll, was also not physically present in London to make his presentation. Rather, he addressed a press conference via Skype, where all kinds of outlandish claims were made. It was alleged that the 2014 general elections were rigged and the late minister and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde was killed because he was aware of the rigging.

During all these startling claims, a masked Shuja kept sitting on a high sofa. In attendance was Congress leader Kapil Sibal and lakhs of Indians who watched him live. The room where the video conferencing took place was full of journalists but the master of the ceremonies took no questions. Shuja admitted Indian EVMs are “standalone devices”, which cannot be hacked.

This is because they contain old chips manufactured when there was no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology. So, while it was not possible to hack individual machines, with their algorithm, it was possible to tweak the machines, he claimed. “All you need for the tweaking is a machine which could transmit at very low frequencies.’’ He further claimed the EVMS were hacked in 2014 by the BJP using a modulator which transmits military-grade frequency. The controversial, unsubstantiated claims of the hacker came amid a renewed focus on EVMs by the united opposition.

While the presentation was on, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “Our great democracy must be protected. Every vote of yours is precious. All Opposition parties discussed the EVM issue after the Kolkata rally. We are taking up the matter with EC on January 19.’’ Shuja further claimed the BJP would have won Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh elections if his team hadn’t intercepted the BJP attempts to hack the transmissions in these states. “

In Delhi state elections in 2015, we managed to intercept the transmission, resulting in the AAP winning 67 out of 70 seats. Otherwise the BJP would have swept that election, too,” he claimed. The cyber expert further claimed he was part of a team at the public sector Electronic Corporation of India, which designed and developed the EVMs. His press conference was organised by the Indian Journalists’ Association (Europe).

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