Indian e-voting researcher wins US award

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Hari Prasad Vemuru, a jailed Indian e-voting researcher, is one of the four winners of the 2010 Pioneer Awards of San Francisco headquartered Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a leading civil liberties group.

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The three other winners are transparency activist Steven Aftergood; public domain scholar James Boyle; and legal blogger Pamela Jones and the website Groklaw.

Vemuru, who was recently released on bail after being imprisoned for his security work in India, is a security researcher who recently revealed security flaws in India’s paperless electronic voting machines.

“He has endured jail time, repeated interrogations, and ongoing political harassment to protect an anonymous source that enabled him to conduct the first independent security review of India’s electronic voting system,” EFF said.

“Prasad spent a year trying to convince election officials to complete such a review, but they insisted that the government-made machines were ‘perfect’ and ‘tamperproof.'”

“Instead of blindly accepting the government’s claims, Prasad’s international team discovered serious flaws that could alter national election results. Months of hot debate have produced a growing consensus that India’s electronic voting machines should be scrapped, and Prasad hopes to help his country build a transparent and verifiable voting system,” EFF said.

“These winners have all worked tirelessly to give critical insight and context to the tough questions that arise in our evolving digital world,” said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele.

“We need strong advocates, educators, and researchers like these to protect our digital rights, and we’re proud to honor these four Pioneer Award winners for their important contributions.”

Awarded every year since 1992, EFF’s Pioneer Awards recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Past honourees include World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, security expert Bruce Schneier, and the Mozilla Foundation and its chairman Mitchell Baker.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])