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Tuesday, August 24, 2010 03:06:33 PM, SINS

Bangalore: Hari Prasad, the Managing Director of Netindia, an Indian research and development firm, on his refusal to disclose an anonymous source who provided an electronic voting machine to a team of security researchers was arrested.

He and other researchers have long questioned the security of India's paperless electronic voting machines. Despite repeated reports of election irregularities and concerns about fraud, the Election Commission of India insists that the machines are tamper-proof.

As per the reports Prasad was questioned Saturday morning at his home in Hyderabad by authorities who wanted to know the identity of the source who gave the voting machine to the research team. Prasad was ultimately arrested and taken to Mumbai, though reportedly hadn't been charged with a crime.

In 2009, the commission publicly challenged Prasad to show that India's voting machines could be compromised, but refused to give him access to the machines to perform a review.

Earlier this year, an anonymous source provided an Indian voting machine to a research team led by Prasad, The team exposed security flaws that could allow an attacker to change election results and compromise ballot secrecy. They published a paper detailing their findings.

The Election Commission of India should have given researchers access to the voting machines in the first place. Prasad is a respected researcher who helped to discover a critical flaw in India's voting system.

He and his fellow researchers would never have been able to document the weaknesses in India's voting machines without the help of their anonymous source.

This is precisely why anonymity is important: it allows people to make important contributions to the public dialogue without fear of retribution.

 

 

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