By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Sri Lanka government has embarked on another project of collecting personal data of the people for a digital database at grama niladhari 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 existing house holders’ register.
According to the document issued to the public via grama niladhari countrywide, the ministry of public administration and home affairs, it has been planned to eliminate obstacles in providing development project benefits to the people.
Another objective is to create an environment free of irregularities and corruption in obtaining public services at grama niladhari divisional level.
Preliminary work of creating e-grama niladhari project data system has been completed at present.
People will have to fil forms distributed by grama niladhari these days among households divulging almost all of their personal 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.
Numerous issues have erupted due to issuance of certificates pertaining to residency based on electoral register by the Grama Niladhari officers and not implementing the methodology of maintaining the householder head list.
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 existing 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 organizations 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.
As a whole, the system opens itself up to all sorts of abuse by errant individuals or organized groups. Having access to people’s linked data on all activities the person has with the state, their family and perhaps bank details is a worrying amount of information that could be at few people’s disposal, they added.
The scheme is also easily converted into a system of mass surveillance that can be used to target dissidents, political opponents and others. All it requires is the right political moment and the wrong people in power. This needless to say is an enduring risk in Sri Lanka.