Police Arrest Researcher Who Showed E-Voting Machines Are Not Secure

from the this-is-concerning dept

A few months back, a research report came out noting that e-voting machines in India were not secure. I had seen it at the time, but considering how many stories we've seen of e-voting machines with security problems, I let it pass and didn't write it up. However, the story has just taken a distressing turn. One of the researchers, Hari Prasad, who had obtained the e-voting machine from an anonymous source in the first place, has been arrested and taken into custody because he will not reveal who gave him the machine:
The police did not state a specific charge at the time of the arrest, but it appears to be a politically motivated attempt to uncover our anonymous source. The arresting officers told Hari that they were under "pressure [from] the top," and that he would be left alone if he would reveal the source's identity.
Prasad was taken from his home and driven to Mumbai, a 14-hour journey, where he is to be interrogated. Alex Halderman, who has done lots of research on e-voting machines over the years, and worked with Prasad on the research on the Indian e-voting machine was able to speak to him while he was being driven to Mumbai. Prasad worries that his arrest will create serious chilling effects on other security researchers, and plans to stand up to authorities to hopefully prevent such chilling effects from occurring. You can listen to excerpts from the call in the following YouTube video:
The initial post, written by Halderman, also gives plenty of background on the machines. The Indian government has refused to let researcher review the machine, and insists that it's tamper-proof. Even after the initial report came out proving this not to be the case, the government has continued to insist the machines are fine and have no problems. Here in the US, it's quite troubling how much the government has relied on e-voting machines without allowing security researchers to really test them, but at least they don't arrest those who have been able to access and test the machines. This is a hugely troubling move by the Indian government, and hopefully getting more attention on such a questionable arrest will make the Indian government regret this decision -- and open up the machines for real security testing.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:10am

    This gave me a great idea

    Open source e-voting machines ... End of problem

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:14am

    Re: This gave me a great idea

    End of 1000% profit margins too. Therein lies the problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    AJ, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:19am

    Duh...

    You bet your ass he was arrested and they want to know who gave him the machine. If he was able to prove that they are not secure, the politicians that are taking advantage of it will loose their ability to skew the elections. You had to see this coming a mile away....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: This gave me a great idea

    Profit concerns on what essentially the primary activity of a Democracy....my, how delicious....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:34am

    Of course they aren't secure. They can't be too hard for a politician to 'adjust'.

    Putting something like a password on it would confuse the average politician.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:51am

    Re:

    Nah...they don't want their pets getting into them...the password is...1......2.......3......4.......5.......

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: This gave me a great idea

    "End of 1000% profit margins too. Therein lies the problem."

    Boo Hoo. Computer manufacturers get away with 15% profit margins. The voting machine types will just have to deal with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:52am

    From india

    Indian congress government is so screwed up and there is a planned scam going on otherwise why do you thing from almost 50+ years we have the same shitty government.
    The entire country is controlled by an italian lady called chutiya gandhi (also the head of Indian congress government) who is trying to make his son the next prime minister. chutiya gandhi and her son or daughter none of them speak good national language and they control the country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Re: This gave me a great idea

    Next thing you know, they'll be putting Goldman Sachs execs in charge of Treasury.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re:

    A guy I work with has that same combination on his luggage....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Joe Szilagyi, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Wikileaks

    Sounds like a textbook example of the sort of time you should have released your research from Wikileaks, so that the media could have gotten to it without risking government retaliation on the leakers and researchers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: This gave me a great idea

    End of 1000% profit margins too. Therein lies the problem.

    nah, the end of plausible deniability when it comes to rigging elections. that's the big concern.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    anthony, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This gave me a great idea

    Ridiculous

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    martyburns (profile), Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 9:52am

    Maybe he's lucky

    that Warner Bros didn't get to him first and sue him for calling himself Hari Prasad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Natraj, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 11:12am

    We just have to wake up and

    Instead of he being awarded for the research, he is being punished and is really a matter of shame. Forget an award he should have been called to see how could we improve the system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Natraj, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 11:13am

    We just have to wake up and

    Instead of he being awarded for the research, he is being punished and is really a matter of shame. Forget an award he should have been called to see how could we improve the system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Wolfy, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    ...and with luck, in the process, shame our politicians into doing the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Akshaya Murthy, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 8:02pm

    Free Hari Prasad community page on facebook

    A community page has been setup for the cause on facebook. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Hari-Prasad/139185779456919

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Negrodamus, Aug 24th, 2010 @ 6:11am

    Its time to kill our leaders

    Time for India and its corrupt leaders to die.
    No longer can we trust our goverments.

    Go forth my children, show no mercy, wipe them out, all of them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    sheva, Aug 24th, 2010 @ 8:15am

    India sleepwalking into dark age of civil liberties

    India claims to be a great democracy but all the pillars are broken or missing.

    What use is it to be called a democracy if citizens can't question or analyze these voting machines which are susceptible to tampering ? Both Indian and non-Indian experts have shown that the EVMs are insecure (more at http://www.indianevm.com/).

    Media Failure: The Indian media have largely failed to throw any light on these well known and documented EVM problems (Big media houses like the Times of India are chasing the "paid news" dollars, by which any politician or company can buy favorable coverage from them. Many of these media stories are planted and riddled with propaganda. See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/08/world/asia/08iht-letter.html ).

    Law and Order Failure: Police continue to make arrests under political pressure, and it is clearly stated to be the case in Hari's case.

    Judiciary: Judges being corrupt, judge/lawyers running in the same large families influencing outcomes, many corrupt judges being exposed (see http://judicialreforms.org/judicial_account.htm ), overuse of contempt provisions, long pendency of cases and so on makes Indian judiciary incapable of effective and timely justice.

    Techology Laws: India is supposedly an infotech powerhouse, but look at the laws. The IT Act of 2000 makes even "annoying speech" a crime and is designed for abuse. There is no dearth of "iconic personalities" which will whither under any kind of scrutiny. States like Maharashtra are trying to bring in legislation that protects "iconic personalities" which would place many elite power players, kings and king makers beyond the reach of even fair comment. A new untouchability is emerging. The direction India is taking is retrograde. See http://www.cis-india.org/advocacy/igov/blog/information-technology-act (Aug 2010).

    This goes on, but the Indian people are on a consumerist spree.

    India is now sleepwalking into a dark age, from the point of view of civil liberties. There are lots of activists, but the police can be used to silence them one by one as the media stands by as a silent accomplice. Hari's is a case in point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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