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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Security fears: EC may not share data with Google

Chetan Chauhan and Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 09, 2014
First Published: 01:15 IST(9/1/2014) | Last Updated: 17:19 IST(9/1/2014)

The Election Commission (EC) is unlikely to share details of around 800 million voters with internet giant Google after internal opposition to the proposal, and may seek the US-based company’s support only for creating voter awareness.

A day after Google made a presentation to the EC seeking technical link to its voter’s database to improve searching one’s name in the electoral rolls, concerns were raised over privacy, data security and its commercial use.

“Most of the data will be stored in Google servers in Europe and United States and we will have no control over its usage,” said a commission functionary, dismissing Google’s proposal that its search engine will work under EC’s brand.

The commission has also received a negative report from security officials against the proposal saying the data can be used by America’s National Security Agency, which is facing allegations of worldwide cyber snooping in the light of revelations made by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Another official raised the issue of privacy saying the people have provided their demographic details to the EC for preparing electoral rolls and not for sharing it with a company. “Can we share personal details of people to an outside agency without seeking their consent?” an official asked.

The EC has also raised concerns over the possible misuse of such a huge database for commercial purpose. “Google may be offering to help us under its corporate social responsibility initiatives, but we cannot overlook that the company works for profit,” an official said.

The EC had accepted Google’s offer to simplify the search of electoral rolls based on a person’s name and address after it was bombarded with complaints from people about difficulties in finding one’s name on the online electoral rolls.


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