'Risk of hacking': Elon Musk reignites debate over integrity of EVMs

Webdunia News Desk

Sunday, 16 June 2024 (15:37 IST)
New Delhi: Amidst raging debate over Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), business magnate and investor Elon Musk called for the elimination of EVMs saying while small, the risk of hacking these machines is still high with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
In a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Musk called for the elimination of EVMs, stating that, while small, the risk of hacking EVMs by humans or Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still high.

He was reacting to the news of alleged discrepancies in Puerto Rico’s primary elections after discovering a software issue that caused the machines to incorrectly calculate vote totals.
This, however, led to a chain of reactions here as well with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi joining the debate and referring to the EVM as a “black box.”
EVMs in India are a "black box," and nobody is allowed to scrutinize them. Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process, Gandhi said, adding, “Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability.”

Reacting to Musk’s post, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, former IT Minister in the previous BJP-led government, said this is a huge, sweeping generalization statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware. “Wrong.”
He said that @elonmusk 's view may apply to US and other places - where they use regular compute platforms to build Internet connected Voting machines.
“But Indian EVMs are custom designed, secure and isolated from any network or media - No connectivity, no blue tooth, wifi, Internet. That is there is no way in. Factory programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed,” he added.
Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. “We wud be happy to run a tutorial Elon…”, he added.

Musk replied to Chandrasekhar, "Anything can be hacked".

To which Chandrasekhar responded: "Technically ur right - anything is possible E.g..wth quantum compute, i can decrypt any level of encryption, with lab level tech n plenty of resources, i can hack any digital hardware/system incldng flight controls of a glass cockpit of a jet etc etc. But thats a different type of a conversatn from EVMs being secure n reliable vis a vis paper voting. And we can agree to disagree."

Before the general elections of 2024, issues were raised about the EVMs and this was also dragged in the Supreme Court where the top court held the integrity of EVMs and termed EVMs as an achievement of the nation and hard work of Indian developers.

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