SMS, WhatsApp can’t canvass for votes at night
EC planning ban on the use of social media 48 hrs before polls
In a move to protect the privacy of voters, the Election Commission (EC) has banned political parties and contesting candidates from making calls, sending SMSes and messages on social media, including WhatsApp, between 10 pm and 6 am during campaign.
This is the first time that the EC has come out with such order. The EC is also planning to ban the use of social media before 48 hours of polls.
In another move to check malpractices, the EC plans to start C-Vigil mobile application that gives the common man an opportunity to click pictures and take videos of violations and send it to election officers concerned during upcoming Assembly polls in five States —Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Mizoram.
Further the application can find out the exact location of the complainants using longitude and latitude information. As soon as the complaint would land in the inbox of the returning officer and deputy election officer concerned, it would be verified within minutes and actions, including lodging of an FIR, would be taken.
On the C-Vigil mobile application, the CEC claimed that within 100 minutes, the complainant will be given feedback on the action taken.
Though the application can be downloaded from Google Play Store and websites of the EC and State chief electoral officers, it will be operational only in constituencies and States which are going to polls.
Rawat said the application has an in-built option which will help the people tick a box to keep their name and cell phone number secret.
In its letter, the EC emphasized that the suggestions be made mandatory between 10 pm and 6 am every day.
“It is necessary to respect the privacy of the citizens and reduce disturbance to public life in general,” the order said.
The order was issued by Secretary (EC) NT Bhutia to all States and Union Territories. “Loudspeakers are prohibited for election campaigns between 10 pm and 6 am,” the order said. There are 200 million WhatsApp users in India.
The EC is preparing a blueprint to stop the “misuse” of social media during elections. “The Election Commission will issue appropriate directions on the blueprint in the coming days,” said EC officials.
The commission has also said that there will be a prohibition on election campaigning activities and sending messages on phones through chatting or messenger apps during these hours.
According to Vijay Dev, Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi, the social media “misuse” is a global issue and various countries are trying their best to tackle it.
On Saturday, speaking on “Challenges to Indian electoral democracy” at a symposium, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat also stressed on the fake news and misuse of social media, saying that the main challenges before the commission are to make election transparent and clean.
Monday, 17 September 2018 | Rajesh Kumar | New Delhi–
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