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Published On: Mon, Jan 21st, 2019

Congress Party distances itself from London presser on EVM hacking

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AVMNEW DELHI : The Congress on Monday distanced itself from the London press conference wherein a self-proclaimed Indian cyber expert claimed electronic voting machines (EVMs) can be hacked and the 2014 parliamentary election was “rigged”, and demanded an investigation into the allegations.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said party leader Kapil Sibal was invited by a journalist and he did not represent the Congress party at the press conference, held under the aegis of the Indian Journalists’  and he did not represent the Congress party at the press conference, held under the aegis of the Indian Journalists’ Association (Europe).
He said the Congress and other parties want that there should be a system in place to check 50 per cent of voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPAT) to reassure the country on the infallibility of electronic voting machines.  “The charges made are very serious. I cannot vouch for them or deny them, as they have not been investigated. But they certainly need investigation. These should be looked into with an open mind by the Election Commission,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, The Election Commission today dismissed the claims made by a London-based hacker, who said he can hack the electronic voting machines used in India. The controversial, unsubstantiated claims of the hacker – made during a so-called hackathon this evening – comes amid a renewed focus on EVMs by the united opposition, which has formed a committee to spearhead the campaign for their removal and a return to ballot papers.
Dr Rajat Moona, the top technical expert with the Election Commission, told that EVMs are “stand-alone machines which have absolutely no capability of transmitting or receiving any data through any wireless communication of any sort”. This is why they are “tamper proof”, said Dr Moona, who is the director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bhillai, and a member of a “technical expert committee” of the Election Commission on EVMs.
In a statement later, the Election Commission called it a “motivated slug fest” and said they would explore “what legal action can and should be taken in the matter”. The Commission said it “firmly stands by the empirical facts about foolproof nature of ECI EVMs deployed in elections in India”.

The hacker, who identified himself as Syed Shuja, said Indian EVMs are “standalone devices”, which cannot be hacked remotely. 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. The controversial, unsubstantiated claims of the hacker comes amid a renewed focus on EVMs by the united opposition
“All you needed was a machine which could transmit at very low frequencies… we acquired a graphite-based transmitter,” he added. The unsubstantiated claims of the hacker are expected to turn up the opposition pitch for the removal of EVMs. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal was present at the event where the hacker made his claims. At the programme, which was broadcast live on Facebook, the hacker also made a number of unsubstantiated political claims.
“Our great democracy must be protected. Every vote of yours is precious. All Oppn parties discussed the #EVM issue after the #UnitedIndiaAtBrigade rally. We are working closely together and decided on Jan 19 itself to consistently take up the matter with EC. Yes, every vote counts,” her tweet read.(With Agency Inputs).

 

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