A US professor who was warning the Indian Government about lack of IT security in Voting machines is being deported from India

According to news reports, J Alex Halderman is refused entry into India and will be deported from the country upon entering. He is one of the authors of the study India's EVMs are vulnerable to fraud which a number of international experts on electronic voting machine security had published in order to warn the Indian government about the flaws in their voting machines.

This is outrageous. Instead of trying to keep those researchers out of the country, the Indian government should invite those experts (who are giving free advice about IT security problems) and have them do a detailed analysis and start an official investigation into why and how the existing machines could ever be used for election purposes.

It seems like the authorities in question have absolutely no clue on how proper incident response is being done. You don't get people to trust your system if you jail activists who outline flaws in voting machines and try to keep foreign experts out of the country. Trust has to be earned. And if there is some serious incident, a public investigation should be started, open to all experts in the field. Trying to cover up by ignoring results of IT security research (academic or otherwise) will not make the system more secure. All this will help is to further undermine trust in the system.

I would like to use this opportunity (and my upcoming trip to FOSS.in/2010) to call upon all my Indian friends: Don't just sit there idle and allow your government to get away with this. The public needs to know how trustworthy the voting machines are. If there are serious objections by academic experts in the field, the system needs to be updated/upgraded or even abolished altogether. Elections are the foundation of a democracy, their results cannot be entrusted to technology that has never received public and independent scrutiny.

UPDATE: It seems that according to indianevm.com, he was only held for 18 hours and later permitted entry into the country. While this is good news in general, it remains unclear why they held him for deportation in the first place, and why the Indian Electoral Commission is so nervous about anyone doing legitimate research on the security of electronic voting in India.