Home » Highly Personal data collection via e-grama niladari project irks the public

Highly Personal data collection via e-grama niladari project irks the public

By: Staff Writer Colombo (LNW): In the wake of the government’s efforts to collect highly personal data for e-grama niladari project distributing forms to be filled by the people and handed over to grama nildaris this week has created public confusion, civil society activists said. The right to privacy includes the right of individuals to lead their lives in a manner that is reasonably secluded from public scrutiny, and the right to make personal decisions regarding their lives, they claimed. The importance of privacy and the multitude of practises through which privacy is breached are not fully appreciated by policymakers, businesses as well as the general public in Sri Lanka. Proposed reform such as the revival of the National Register of Persons recommendations for invasive surveillance methods2 as well as violations of privacy,in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic3 raises grave concerns, especially in the absence of legislative protection of the right to privacy in Sri Lanka, several leading legal luminaries pointed out. These developments, among others, need to be closely monitored, and wide debate and awareness generated on their potential implications and risks. Sri Lanka government has already embarked on another project of collecting personal data of the people for a digital database at grama niladari divisional level in addition to similar initiatives of setting up of various databases for e –passport, e –national identity card, e -driving licence etc. The aim is to Utilize this community – based database of ‘e – Grama Niladhari’ project instead of the previously existed house holders’ register. According to the document issued to the pubic via grama niladaris countrywide, the ministry of public administration and home affairs, it has been planned to eliminate obstacles in providing development project benefits to the people. People will have to fil forms distributed by grama nildaris these days among households   divulging almost all of their personnel details including email address, passport number,driving licence details , mobile number and the number of residential phone., bank account number. It is also compulsory to provide highly personnel details of details of bank account, monthly income, and the extent of housing land if there is any employment, etc By now ‘e – Grama Niladhari’ project has been inaugurated under the State Ministry of Home Affairs and a house and citizens database is being developed while it has been planned to implement throughout the 14,022 Grama Niladhari divisions under several phases. Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal submitted by the President as the Minister of Defence to conceptually accept the database of ‘e – Grama Niladhari’ project as the national database for the requirements of previously existed householders list method. Householders’ lists are confined to only basic details of the house holder and occupants and the current comprehensive system includes all personnel details. Quite apart from exposing confidential details ,there are the inherent risks of holding the nation’s entire identity information in a central database that is accessed by various government — and possibly private — entities,several social activists , community organiastions and socio economic experts claimed. The system immediately becomes a magnet for hackers. In the age of cyberwarfare and the usual sloppiness with which information security is treated by those in the Sri Lankan government, this should be a serious concern, they complained.

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