Laws inadequate to check abuse of money in polls: CEC Rawat
CEC cites fake news as major threat to polls
Chief Election Commissioner O. P. Rawat on Saturday claimed that the existing laws were not adequate to deal with the menace of black money during polls while observing that Cambridge Analytica like machinations resulting in data theft, fake news and data harvesting were a major threat to the country’s electoral exercise.
Speaking at a seminar in the Capital the CEC further said that democracy does not run on whims and needed qualities like courage, character, integrity and knowledge which were now diminishing and were virtually on the verge of extinction in the country.
Mr Rawat pointed out a number of challenges for the Election Commission saying if the electoral process was vitiated then common citizens become cynical of the entire system which was an area of concern. “Issues like fake news, make believe things, rise of all kind of machinations like data theft, data harvesting, profiling, targeted communication was not only affecting communication but even influencing referendum all over the world while changing the outcome of any process which is meant to translate popular will in taking a healthy decision and in choosing a healthy representative Government. This threat was being faced by ever democracy in the world today,’’ the CEC added. He said the Commission was aware of these challenges and other similar issues. Mr Rawat claimed the Election Commission was aware of problems like cyber security and to further protect data to ensure that Cambridge Analytica kind of things do not happen over elections’. “We are seized of problems like misuse and abuse of social media platforms, fake news, about all kinds of ills that get into whether it is management of electoral rolls, campaign finance, polling process and technology,’’ he claimed. While commenting on the misuse of money power during polls, the CEC said existing laws were not adequate to ensure a complete check at this abuse due to which State funding of polls was presently not possible in India. “The present framework is not sufficient to address this issue. And therefore, the commission has been suggesting a number of reforms in this direction,’’ the CEC said.
Mr Rawat said the Commission was working on the effective use of media and curbing use of fake news as well as paid news.
We are seized of problems like misuse and abuse of social media platforms, fake news, about all kinds of ills — O. P. Rawat, Chief Election Commissioner