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Yechury Writes to ECI on Voter ID-Aadhar Linking

"With the lack of a data protection law, we oppose any potential sharing of all Voter-IDs linked with Aadhaar," the general secretary of CPI(M) wrote in a letter to the apex election body.

In an alarming letter to the Election Commission of India, Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) has taken note of concerns of security, privacy and voter deletions with the Aadhaar Voter ID linking, that the ECI has decided to restart now.

According to the EC the linking of voter ID cards with Aadhaar cards is being done with a view to establish the identity of electors and authentication of entries in the electoral roll.

In the letter, Yechury pointed that "As part of this exercise several Chief Electoral Officers across the country have obtained the Aadhaar data of voters from several other databases like NPR, PDS and State Resident Data Hubs(SRDH). These electoral offices linked Aadhaar with Voter ID of 31 crore voters without informing the individual voters and instead using algorithms to automatically link them based on already existing data."

"This process has resulted in voter deletions across the country and in particular in the state of Telangana, where the NERP-AP exercise of Aadhaar with Voter ID was originally developed," he stated.

With all these previous electoral malpractices with regards to Aadhaar, Yechury has found the lack of consultations with political parties before the start of this process as concerning.

He said, "India currently does not have a data protection or privacy law and neither does the Election Commission of India have a privacy policy with regards to maintenance of Aadhaar data of voters. The stated purpose of the Aadhaar voter ID linking is primarily to remove duplicate voters, but with concerns of duplicate Aadhaar raised by CAG in its report on UIDAI, this is a hasty exercise."

"It is the duty of the Election Commission of India to investigate these serious lapses in voter deletions and data breaches that occurred. The Election Commission of India is mandated to protect the constitutional rights of the voters. Until the Election Commission produces an investigation report into these incidents, and comes out with a clear checks and balances this linking exercise must be kept under abeyance," Yechury stated.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, authorising the linking of Aadhaar with Voter IDs, was passed by the Lok Sabha through a voice vote in December 2021.

Yechury has demanded that ECI must delete all the Aadhaar data collected before the amendments to the Representation of People’s Act in 2021 allowing this linking procedure.

"With the lack of a data protection law, we oppose any potential sharing of all Voter-IDs linked with Aadhaar to be shared with the Ministry of Home Affairs for either for the purpose of building the NATGRID database, the National Population Registry, the National Registry of Citizens and any new and upcoming databases of birth and death registries. We oppose usage of this data collected only for electoral purposes to be used for other purposes and demand a purpose limitation for this data," Yechury said.

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