Friday, August 27, 2010

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) not tamperproof

Dinamani ePaper

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MPs demand probe into voting machines


First Published: 26 Aug 2010 03:23:09 PM IST

NEW DELHI: In the backdrop of the arrest of a man who raised doubts about EVMs, several MPs today said the issue of alleged tampering of the voting machines should be looked into thoroughly and an all-party meeting be called to discuss the issue.

BJP has maintained that EVMs used in India were not tamper-proof and a paper back-up should be used during elections.

The party's top brass, including L K Advani and Nitin Gadkari, have expressed doubts about the authenticity of these machines.

"A computer readjustment of the programme (in an EVM) and we will be sitting in the opposition forever," BJP MP Maneka Gandhi said.

She mentioned the case in Florida, USA, in which EVMs were reportedly tampered. She said an all-party meeting should be called and opinion of experts sought on the issue.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said during his tenure as CM, the EVMs were introduced for the first time and questions were raised then on whether these machines were "foolproof".
"I think they should probe first. You have to be very clear that the machines are foolproof. It should be free of doubt," Abdullah said.

Asked if he felt this calls for an all-party meeting on the issue, Abdullah answered in the affirmative.
Trinamool Congress Chief Whip in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyaya said EVMs made the voting pattern quicker but at the same time these should be above any doubts.

"We have not taken any decision (on EVMs). We had our allegations once, no doubt. But now we have done well (electorally)," Bandopadhyaya said.

Hari Prasad, technical coordinator of VeTA (Citizens for Verifiability, Transparency and Accountability in Elections), who claimed that electronic voting machines could be tampered with, was arrested from Hyderabad on Saturday last in connection with the theft of an EMV. The Election Commission has termed as "patently false" the allegation that Prasad was arrested at its behest.


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Efficacy of EVM: Opposition wants all-party meet

U Anand Kumar

Express News Service

First Published: 26 Aug 2010 02:53:24 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Opposition in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday demanded an all-party meeting to discuss vulnerability of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Raising the issue during the Zero Hour, TDP leader MV Mysura Reddy said that the EVMs were vulnerable and did not have backups in case of failure.

He pointed out that the technical experts, international as well as Indian, proved beyond doubt that these EVMs were vulnerable to tampering.

"Instead of rectifying this defect, the Election Commission is harassing the technical experts by filing cases against them and forcing the Government to arrest those people", he alleged.

Mysura Reddy underlined the need to convince all political parties and people regarding the fair voting and the foolproof system of these EVMs.

Intervening on the issue, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said, "In some countries, they have gone back to the paper system on the ground that a voter is entitled to know whether his vote has been registered or not".

Urging the government to call a meeting of all political parties and allay these fears, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said that there were also some very positive suggestions whereby you can improve the entire system.

AIADMK leader V Maitreyan said that the EVMs have become suspect in the eyes of not only the political class in this country but also the common man.

"Now, throughout Europe, elections are being held only through paper ballot. There has been a persistent demand that an all-party meeting should be held as early as possible to create an opinion on this. We seek that the country should revert back to paper ballot", he added.


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EVM controversy takes a political turn

TNN, Aug 26, 2010, 02.45pm IST

NEW DELHI: The controversy over Electronic Voting Machines has taken a political turn with TDP chief Chandrabab u Naidu batting for the man who 'proved' that voting machines could be tampered with. The BJP and the Left too join the fray by demanding an all-party meeting to discuss the 'vulnerability' of the EVMs in elections, Times Now reported on Thursday.

According to Times Now, the TDP chief termed as "unfortunate", the arrest of a technocrat Hari Prasad by Maharashtra Police in connection with the theft of an Electronic Voting Machine. He also alleged that Hari Prasad was arrested last Saturday based on a complaint filed by a District Election Officer, which stated that an EVM has been stolen from a government godown.

"The EVMs are tamperable. And, there is no backup. Even experts have raised this issue. Election Commission did not take into consideration all these things, but we don't know why they have arrested the expert. We have raised this issue in Parliament," said Naidu.

"Hari Prasad has only used the machine to prove that it is tamperable. It is not his crime," Naidu said.
Naidu demanded that Prasad be released immediately and all cases against him be withdrawn. He also demanded that the government take steps to ensure that the voting process is made foolproof.

VeTA ( Citizens for Verifiability, Transparency and Accountability in Elections), the NGO for which Prasad was working as technical coordinator, has termed Prasad's arrest a witch-hunt by the EC even as the opposition parties renewed calls for an all-party meet to discuss electronic voting.

The incident has also caught the attention of the world media, with many experts questioning the EC's reaction to criticism.

Producing a letter written by 12 parties, including CPM, RJD, SP and JD(U) to EC in April on the same issue, Naidu had alleged yesterday that EVMs can be tampered with. He said that the doubts about their functioning have "reduced the people's faith in the system". He demanded that the Election Commission convene an all-party meeting to discuss steps required to reform the voting system.

EVM issue raised in Rajya Sabha

Major opposition parties including the BJP and Left yesterday also demanded an all-party meeting to discuss in depth, the "vulnerability" of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in elections.

"We will urge the government to call an all-party meeting," said Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley in the upper house, adding technical experts should also be called to clear doubts. BJP leader L K Advani has already raised questions about EVMs being tamper-proof. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, M V Mysura Reddy (TDP) said EVMs were vulnerable and did not have backups in case of failure. He alleged that Election Commission was harassing technical experts who had doubts over the functioning of EVMs.

He said cases were slapped against these experts. Reddy was supported by Sitaram Yechury, who said that an all-party meeting should be called to resolve the issue.

V Maitreyan of AIADMK said that EVMs have become the suspects not only for the political class but also for the common man. He said that several European countries have gone back to ballot paper. He also accused the EC of harassing technical experts who questioned the efficacy of the machines.

Chandrababu Naidu demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should intervene in the matter and convene an all-party meeting to discuss this "important issue."

Naidu said all parties, including BJP, have doubts about the functioning of EVMs and hoped that Congress will also join their campaign. "I spoke to ( senior BJP leader) Arun Jaitely and other leaders. We hope Congress will also support us (on this issue)," he said.

'EVMs not tamperproof'

Hari Prasad was part of a three-member global team that sought to prove that EVMs had their flaws. The team needed an EVM for testing, but the Election Commission did not help efforts by failing to provide machines. The team nevertheless managed to procure one, and that is why he was accused of stealing one from Mumbai.

"From the last conversation I had with him, Hari is staying strong. They are putting pressure on him, but he has not revealed the name of the source who supplied it (the EVM)," said Alex Halderman, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Michigan and one of the world's foremost specialists on voting machine security.

Halderman had teamed up with Prasad and Dutch hacker Robert Valentijn Gonggrijp earlier this year on the invitation of an NRI association called 'Save Indian Democracy' and VeTA to examine the possibility of misusing electronic voting machines (EVM) in India.

Soon after last year's national elections, the Election Commission had publicly challenged anyone to prove that EVMs could be hacked.

To their dismay, the trio found that the Commission was in no mood to give them one of the 1.3 million EVMs for testing, until an anonymous source supplied them with one.

According to the Maharashtra police who are interrogating Hari Prasad, the machine was stolen from the godown at Old Customs House in Mumbai. Hari was arrested on Saturday, soon after he gave a live demonstration of how EVMs could be pre-programmed to favour one candidate or party.

"This is a case where the police action is obviously politically motivated. It is an attempt to intimidate us," Halderman says.

The controversy was further stoked at an industry conference on EVMs in Washington, US, where Alok Shukla, Deputy Election Commissioner at the ECI and Alex Halderman put forth different accounts regarding the case of Hari Prasad.

Halderman, who said that he and his colleagues had worked with Prasad to demonstrate the vulnerability of EVMs to tampering, pleaded with Shukla to call off efforts by the ECI to have the police question Prasad.


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Intel background check on EVM 'thief'

Vishwa Mohan,

TNN, Aug 27, 2010, 03.06am IST

NEW DELHI: Is the arrested activist, who showed that an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) can be tampered with, a mere tool in the hands of some corporate rivals who want to make a clone of the equipment which has a huge demand in countries across Africa and South America?

Or, is he, who got technical help from three foreigners, a part of some larger conspiracy to discredit India's election process?

With these sneaking suspicions in mind, the intelligence agencies -- both IB and R&AW -- have set into motion their network to check the backgrounds of Hari Prasad, who was arrested in Hyderabad in the EVM theft case last Saturday, and his foreign contacts.

Suspecting that the instrument might have been smuggled out possibly to an European country, a top official on Thursday said there could be a larger "conspiracy angle" to discredit the country's election process and this was being probed "thoroughly" after Prasad's arrest.

"There seems to be a bigger picture than what it looked like initially. We are conducting a through probe to find out who was actually behind it, why it has been done and whether there is a conspiracy to discredit India's election process," the official said.

Sources said the investigators have found that two Americans and one Dutch national had helped Prasad, technical coordinator of VeTA ( Citizens for Verifiability, Transparency and Accountability in Elections), to show how the machine can be tampered with.

The Union home ministry is constantly monitoring the development and giving regular directions to the investigators and intelligence agencies asking for all the details. Besides, the probe agencies are also trying to find out whether any domestic or foreign private corporate was indirectly involved in the theft case to make a clone as EVMs are manufactured only by two government undertakings -- Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronic Corporation of India. Both these organisations also export EVMs to a few foreign countries.

Prasad was arrested for allegedly stealing an EVM from the Mumbai Collector's office. He used the EVM for demonstrating on TV how the machine can be tampered with. Prasad, however, claimed innocence saying he did not steal the EVM, which was given to him by two persons who took it back within two days.


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EVM theft: Court extends Prasad's police custody

PTI, Aug 26, 2010, 03.31pm IST

MUMBAI: A Metropolitan court today extended the police remand of activist Hari Prasad, who claimed to have blown the whistle on how an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) can be tampered with, conceding prosecution's request for his further custodial interrogation.
While extending Prasad's police remand till August 28, Metropolitan Magistrate V B Srikhande refused to entertain his bail plea, saying it would be considered only after his police remand gets over and he is sent to judicial custody.

Hari Prasad (42), technical coordinator of VeTA ( Citizens for Verifiability, Transparency and Accountability in Elections), was arrested from Hyderabad on Saturday for allegedly stealing an EVM from the Mumbai Collector's office. He later used the EVM for demonstrating on TV how the machine can be tampered with.

The police sought further custody of Prasad, saying it needed to find out the identity of two other activists from Maharashtra who allegedly helped him.

"This is a very sensitive case with repercussions at the national level and police should be given time and Hari Prasad's custody for investigation," Srikhande observed while passing the order.

Claiming innocence, Prasad said he did not steal the EVM, which was given to him by two persons who took it back within two days.


Russia opens Asia sea route

Russia opens Asia sea route


MOSCOW, August 26, 2010

BREAKING THE ICE: Russia's SCF Baltica tanker during a voyage along the Northern Sea recently.

Photo AFP. BREAKING THE ICE: Russia's SCF Baltica tanker during a voyage along the Northern Sea recently.

Faster and cheaper than the Suez route

Russia has opened a shortcut northern sea route from Europe to Asia across the Arctic, reasserting itself as the dominant power in the strategic mineral-rich region.

A Russian tanker, escorted by powerful nuclear icebreakers, successfully skirted the icebound Arctic coastline of Russia with a load of gas condensate for China.

The 114,564-tonne tanker Baltica is the first super vessel to navigate the northern waterway. Earlier, only ships with a maximum deadweight of 14,000 tonnes ventured the route. Officials said the successful journey proved the route was safe and economically viable.

The Arctic Sea route is almost twice faster than the Suez Canal route and about 15 per cent cheaper, according to Leonid Mikhelson, head of Novotek, a Russian natural gas company which sent the Baltica on its trailblazing voyage.

"Next year we're planning to deliver more shipments of gas condensate to the markets of China and South Korea via the Arctic route," the Novotek chief told a press conference in Moscow on Thursday. He said the new route would enable the company to build an LNG plant in gas-rich Yamal Peninsula in Russia's northeast.

The northern route from the Russian port of Murmansk to Shanghai is 10,600 km long, while the Suez Canal one is 17,700 km. Shippers will save a million dollars per tanker in fuel costs alone.

Two icebreakers cleared the way for the Baltica through 4,000 km of icy seas before reaching the Russian port of Pevek in the Chukotsky Sea, from where the tanker will continue its journey to China on its own.

The Russian state-controlled shipping company Sovcomflot, which owns the Baltica tanker, said it planned to operate the new route during four summer months. The waterway may be open for longer periods if global climate warming causes Arctic ice to melt.

The opening of the northern route for tankers and other cargo ships could re-carve the global sea transportation map. Russia will be the biggest winner as the lucrative trade route runs through its territorial waters and it is the only country that has a fleet of nuclear icebreakers.


Jayalalithaa offers prayers at Srirangam temple

Dinamani ePaper

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Jayalalithaa offers prayers at Srirangam temple


TIRUCHI, August 27, 2010

AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa at Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam on Thursday.

Photo:M.Moorthy AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa at Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam on Thursday.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa offered prayers at the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam on Thursday.

A 'Sahasranama Archana' was performed to the presiding deity.

She also offered prayers at the Thayar, Chakarathazhwar and Ramanujar sannidhis.

On her arrival by a special flight at 2.20 p.m., Ms. Jayalalithaa proceeded to the temple where she was given a rousing welcome by a large gathering of AIADMK workers.

Accompanied by her friend Sasikala Natarajan, Ms. Jayalalithaa spent nearly three hours at the temple.

Tight security arrangements were in place.

She later left for Chennai.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paintings from Mysore and Bangalore

Paintings from Mysore and Bangalore

Aug 16, 2010

Srinidhi Rajagopalan, III E, PSBBLLA, Bangalore
Srinidhi Rajagopalan, III E, PSBBLLA, Bangalore

Vennela.G., III, Green Valley School, Pungannur.
Vennela.G., III, Green Valley School, Pungannur

Yashwanth, JSS Public School, Mysore.
Yashwanth, JSS Public School, Mysore.

Rajesh, VIII, JNV Hondarbalu, Chamraj Nagar.
Rajesh, VIII, JNV Hondarbalu, Chamraj Nagar.

Rushabh Kathote, X B,Aditya Birla Public School, Kumarpatnam
Rushabh Kathote, X B,Aditya Birla Public School, Kumarpatnam

Beebee Jaan.A., VIII, Muncipal Middle School, Krishnagiri
Beebee Jaan.A., VIII, Muncipal Middle School, Krishnagiri


Google CEO on online privacy: Change your name

Google CEO on online privacy: Change your name


SAN FRANCISCO, August 19, 2010

Google CEO Eric Schmidt
Google CEO Eric Schmidt

The chief executive of Google has a novel suggestion for those wishing to preserve their online privacy: Change your name.

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of the company made the comments in a Wall Street Journal article about the implications of having so much data online.

"I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," he told the paper.

He predicted that "every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites," the report said.

"We really have to think about these things as a society," he added. "I'm not even talking about the really terrible stuff, terrorism and access to evil things."

The comments came as Google's Android operating system for mobile phones is set to overtake Apple's iPhone, and as the company is snapping up social networking start-ups as it attempts to beef up its competition with Facebook.

Combining its wealth of data with the ability to know where you are creates a whole new level of location-based services. "We know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are," Schmidt said.

"I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next." The implication: "If you need milk and there's a place nearby to get milk, Google will remind you to get milk. It will tell you a store ahead has a collection of horse racing posters, that a 19th-century murder you've been reading about took place on the next block," the report said.

From here to reading your mind, is but a short step or two, Schmidt said. "As you go from the search box (to the next phase of Google), you really want to go from syntax to semantics, from what you typed to what you meant," Schmidt said. "And that's basically the role of (Artificial Intelligence). I think we will be the world leader in that for a long time."


Gmail to allow phone calls from computers

Gmail to allow phone calls from computers


NEW YORK, August 26, 2010

Google will roll out the new feature to US-based Gmail users over the next few days and is working on making it available globally, Xinhua reported.

Google will roll out the new feature to US-based Gmail users over the next few days and is working on making it available globally, Xinhua reported.

Google Inc. on Wednesday said its Gmail service will add a feature that allows users to call any phone directly from their computers.

"Starting today, you can call any phone right from Gmail," Robin Schriebman, a software engineer at Google, wrote on the company's blog.

"We've been testing this feature internally and have found it to be useful in a lot of situations, ranging from making a quick call to a restaurant, to placing a call when you're in an area with bad reception," Schriebman wrote.

Google will roll out the new feature to US-based Gmail users over the next few days and is working on making it available globally, Xinhua reported.

Users can call any phone in the US and Canada for free for at least the rest of the year, while Google also promised cheap international calls.

Calls to Britain, France, Germany, China, Japan and many other countries will be billed as low as two cents per minute, Google said.

Gmail already has a voice and video chat that allows users to talk to each other.


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