Election Commission can draw lessons from Privacy Protection Principles for resolving black money issue

The Indian Election Commission has been suggesting that the Government should initiate measures to ensure that funding of election parties is properly accounted so that black money transactions are reduced. The present Government of Mr Modi has also shown a greater resolve than earlier Governments to tackle the issue of election funding. It is therefore time to find a proper solution to ensure that black money does not get generated in the election process.

For this issue there are two requirements that the EC and Government should address. First the artificial restriction on election expenses can be removed. Let political parties spend money as long as they account for it. Unaccounted cash expenses can be reduced to some negligible amount less than the current expenditure limits as a drive towards cash less election spending. At the same time the spending limits through digital payments which can be traced and accounted can be completely removed.

Having provided the freedom to spend the resistance of political parties to account the donations received can be reduced. Then the Government can reduce the unaccounted cash donations to some ridiculously low level of say Rs 100/-. Anything above Rs 100 has to be through digital payment system so that it is accounted. No more should an option be created for donations in cash upto Rs 20000/-.

However, the excuse for anonymous donations based on possible retribution by political opponents still remains to be tackled. Here we can adopt the time tested principles of “Privacy Protection” through de-identification of information for which ready tools are already available.

The essence of this election funding system is a “De-identification Portal for Election Funding” which runs like the “Anonymizer” as both a mobile App as well as a desktop tool. Any person who wants to contribute will open the app and will be allocated a transaction ID. The server issuing transaction ID does not know what is the amount of contribution but only maintains a mapping of the transaction ID to the Aadhar ID of the contributor or his finger print for aadhaar invocation.  The app will then connect to the payment gateway and complete the payment against the transaction ID. The Transaction ID server and the Payment gateway will both report the transaction to the tax authorities which alone will have the real identity of the contributor and the contribution. This is of course inevitable if we want to eliminate black money.

The de-identifcation transaction server can be maintained by the Election Commission or the IT auhorities. Private agencies may also be allowed to maintain such servers on a distributed service model so that the transaction IDs are handled randomly by different servers defusing the identification possibilities. There are more robust anonymization strategies through “Multi-split ID Management for anonymization” which Naavi has discussed earlier, to completely eliminate any private agency coming to know the real identity of the contributor so that there is no reason to fear any retribution.

If therefore there is a political will to eliminate black money in election process without the obnoxious suggestions such as “Public Funding” etc, here is a solution. Let the Election Commission and Mr Modi both consider this and adopt if they have the resolve.

Naavi

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About Vijayashankar Na

Naavi is a veteran Cyber Law specialist in India and is presently working from Bangalore as an Information Assurance Consultant. Pioneered concepts such as ITA 2008 compliance, Naavi is also the founder of Cyber Law College, a virtual Cyber Law Education institution. He now has been focusing on the projects such as Secure Digital India and Cyber Insurance
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