Netas the new Hackers

Cashing in on the easy accessibility of the email, political parties are sending out messages in crores to voters. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sent over 3.5 crore emails. The Congress has sent 2.4 crore emails and will send 80 lakh more in each of the four phases of polling left. 

"We have a database of around 3.5 crore people to whom we keep sending emails regularly. Whenever there is a big development, we send emails to voters. We plan to reach out to 10 crore voters during the entire campaign through various media, including SMSes. However, we take care that the SMS is not sent to voters who have registered for the 'Do Not Call,' service," said the BJP's IT campaign incharge Pradyut Vora.

Similar is the strategy being followed by the Congress. The manager of their IT campaign, Vishvjit P Singh, said that they have reached out to voters thrice in the recent weeks through emails. "Around 80 lakh emails were sent every time we wanted to announce something about our party or candidates. The party will send 80 lakh more emails on the eve of the next four phases of elections," said Singh.

However, none of them revealed the source of their database. "I can't comment about how we compiled the database. I am not aware of that," said Vora.

The emails being sent to voters are region, caste and age specific. People of different age groups are receiving different types of emails with text specifically dealing with their issues. The matter in the email varies from region to region as well, proving that the political parties are armed with exact details of voters. 

Email service providers Yahoo and Google, when contacted, denied having tied-up with any political party to provide email addresses. "We consider it an intrusion in the privacy of the user. We do not have any policy to share email addresses of our users," said a Yahoo spokesperson. 

While the political parties are tight-lipped, cyber experts said that email IDs are regularly leaked out and are easily available in the grey market. 

"Vendors all over the country get details of email addresses by tracing user IPs. And this procedure is not strictly legal as it's an intrusion of a person's privacy. It is similar to buying mobile numbers from the grey market to send bulk SMSes," said a cyber security expert, wishing anonymity. 

However, in case of an SMS, the user can register with the "Do Not Call" service and block messages from a particular phone number. But there is no such law in the country to bar unwanted emails. "If we do not want to read these emails we can mark them as spam. Then the email won't appear in the inbox of the user. But there is no way to stop them from arriving in your mail," said the expert

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