Laws inad­e­quate to check abuse of money in polls: CEC Rawat

CEC cites fake news as ma­jor threat to polls

The Asian Age - - Front Page -

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

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