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As Election Commission discusses blockchain-based remote voting, experts raise concerns over voter privacy

As the Election Commission held a series of webinars on the use of blockchain for remote voting on Monday, the issue of voter privacy emerged as a major talking point, with lawyers and academics believing that it should be given as much importance as the process of voting itself. “When we talk about blockchain-based remote voting, we should also talk about the importance of data process in the entire process of voting and not just the voting itself,” said Nappinai NS, an Advocate at the Supreme Court, and founder of Cyber Saathi. Referring to the Telangana Election Commission’s use of facial recognition technologies at some polling booths during civic elections earlier this year, Nappinai said that, “we’re seeing the use of a lot of intrusive technology being used in elections, which when interconnected can go against the Puttaswamy judgement [on the right to privacy]”. She also questioned the entire idea behind using tech during elections, pointing out that even the “current method of voting using EVMs requires a paper trail [VVPAT]”; “do you even need tech,” she asked. The Election Commission’s IT Director VN Shukla said that the organisation should approach remote voting as a “layered system”, which should be a “good mix of processes which are easy to use, tech which is robust and scalable, standardised databases, and easy and maintainable user interface”. He said that any new process should not seem much different from the previous one and that the adoption should be “gradually increased”. While it is…

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