The EVM saga continues- The Gujarat and Himachal elections are done and dusted and amidst all the muddle around EVM tampering, A headline that grabbed many eyeballs was Janta Ka Reporter’s article claiming that the Manufacturers of EVMs themselves have accepted that the devices can be toyed with.
According to the reports, the manufacturing company, Microchip Inc. has agreed to the fact that their machines are open to hacking, tampering and cloning. The Microchip Inc., USA, which is one of the EVM microchip manufacturers, clearly states that their product (microchip, MCU, semi-conductors etc) can be hacked and they can be tampered with or modified. OTP/Masked or burnt chip is not unbreakable technology.
Recently the former CEC, Naveen Chawla, in an interview had claimed that the EVMs cannot be hacked even in the future. He added, “The EVM is a single-chip unit with a pre-programmed set of instructions that are readable only by specific devices via a wired connection. One can override these by replacing the chip of the EVMs after dismantling the unit altogether, but the control unit records key stamping if it’s a Generation 2 machine and doesn’t allow functioning at all if it’s a Generation 3 machine. So, any tampering, if it has occurred at all, can be easily detected by officials. Besides, all party representatives are allowed a testing of the EVM before it is randomly deployed to booths and the EVMs are also tested at the polling stations. After polling, EVMs are locked with seals signed by the representatives. So, party representatives can also verify if their seals have been broken, during counting.”
But the report has raised several concerns over all the claims made by the Election commission. Quoting the Manufacturers, ”Neither Microchip nor any other semiconductor manufacturer can guarantee the security of their code. Code protection does not mean that we are guaranteeing the product as “unbreakable.”
To the acceptance of the manufacturer, Clones of its product existed in the market and could, therefore, exist in the market even today.
These statements by Microchip imply that EVMs actually aren’t 100% secure and can be tampered with, although it would take a humongous amount of Work and Money to plan any such hacking.
The Gujarat Pradesh Congress committee has recently filed a petition with the Supreme Court, seeking direction to the Election commission to count and cross-verify at least 25% of the VVPAT paper trail votes with the EVM votes on counting day.
Hardik Patel, on the other hand, has been Vocal about the issues with EVMs and has been asking opposition parties to join hands against EVM tampering.
It is going to be interesting to see how Election Commission responds to these allegations and if found true, how it is going to handle the situation.