How political parties can use digital Voter ID to target the voters?
The Election Commission launched an electronic- EPIC (Electoral Photo Identity Card) programme on 25th January on the occasion of National Voter’s Day. Voters in India now would be able to use this new digital option for the upcoming Assembly elections in five states. e-EPIC number is a PDF version of the voter card which can be downloaded on mobile or in a self-printable form on the computer. A person can download it on his/her phone, take a print out of it or save it on Digi locker. It is an addition to the existent PCV voter ID card.
It is a known fact that Data is the new oil and now because the VOTER ID has gone digital, our data will be available on the internet. Because voter ID has our sensitive personal information like name, age, sex, address and EPIC number, it bears a great risk now. If the personal data is stolen and sold to political parties, it will amount to have a “nuclear code” in an electoral battle. Needless to say that we have full faith in our Election Commission which honest and competent functionaries, but there have been instances in past when private information of the people have been leaked in the digital world. Stealing of data, hacking, cyber-attacks have now become a commonplace.
What if a political party gets access to digital Voter ID?
If the digital data of Voter ID becomes available to a political party, the party will enjoy an unfair advantage in the polls and hence deny a level-playing field for other parties.
The game will change once the mobile number is added to the VOTER ID or email address. If you will go to election commission of India website to download the e-EPIC, they will ask you to register your e-mail ID or Phone number first. Hence, any political party which gets access to our contact numbers, will easily be able to target the voter to spread various kinds of messages. People could be told about various schemes beforehand easily via SMS or WhatsApp messages.
Voters could be sent a message with achievements of the particular political party and hence they could be encouraged to vote. A political party will have direct access to the voters. A political party which doesn’t have such data, will find it difficult to connect to a giant audience, merely by touring the area, posters or banners. But mobile connectivity will provide swift connectivity on a personal level and make a deeper impact.
Digital data makes us vulnerable
It is possible that a candidate gets access to beneficiaries of government schemes, and informs them about the benefits that have been delivered to them just before the election to influence them to vote for him/her.
Form 20 stores the information about which candidate got how many votes at a particular booth. Hence one can easily know that voters preferred which candidate at each and every booth. Now that the one has access to the personal contact number, the candidate can reorient his/her strategy on the particular booth.
If the sensitive data gets sold to advertisers, they can use to send targeted ads to a particular person. A person’s contact number or email address can be used to attract him/her to invest in a particular product or service. The personal data can be sold on the dark web where no one knows how it can be used against us.
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