EC releases tool to get citizen reports on illegal campaigning, hate speech during polls

In a major technology leap undertaken by the Election Commission (EC) to check electoral malpractices, a common man can now upload a video or audio clip of an inflammatory speech, illegal cash or liquor distribution to the poll body's website which will automatically authenticate the credentials of the media post.


The EC, for the first time, has developed and deployed a unique Android-based software which is able to automatically generate the geographical location, coordinates, date and time of a clip uploaded onto it which is an attempt by the poll body to weed out instances of fake videos and footage being circulated to confuse the voters and also to mislead election officials.


"All that a common man needs to do now is to use an Android phone for recording a political meeting or an instance of illegal distribution of cash or liquor or any other electoral malpractice in his or her area. The software will automatically find out the coordinates of the area and time and date, thereby reducing instances of fake videos going viral during election time," a senior official told PTI.


Sources said that the EC wanted to get such a software for a long time as a number of instances of inflammatory speeches and videos emerge during the polls and it is essential to differentiate between the authentic and the fake ones.


Also, once such an technical authentication is available for a video or an audio, the EC can take an informed action against the guilty or a candidate under the Representation of the People Act.


The official said the new facility has now been provided to the offices of all the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) across the country and instructions have been issued to them to keep the name and identity of such whistle blowers a secret.


The new software-based websites, the official said, can also be used to upload photographs and audio related to the polls process.


"To encourage collection of evidences of malpractices and inform the election officials or the complaint monitoring cell, any citizen can even upload photos, videos, audios of malpractices collected during election process to the control room through the web link," the EC said in a fresh directive issued to state CEOs on April 22.


The EC has said that once the video or audio is uploaded, it should be immediately reported by the CEO to the local chief of the election expenditure monitoring team who will take a swift action in the case. A copy of this will also be provided to the poll body in Delhi. "Identity of members giving information or complaints shall be kept secret keeping in view their personal security," the EC has said.



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