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Sri Lanka Supreme Court petitioned on invasion of privacy, central database profiling

Oct 10, 2017 06:48 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - Relief has been sought in Sri Lanka's highest court against at attempt by the Department of Registration of Persons to build a central database with comprehensive data, profiling every citizen, containing entire family trees and giving "virtually unrestricted access to any information concerning any citizen recorded with any public authority".

The petitioner said the regulations were unreasonable, capricious arbitrary and breached the reasonableness, fairness, proportionality, legitimate expectation, natural justice.

The regulations were issued under a law already passed in Parliament, which gives the defence secretary powers to examine the record of any citizen, even those who had not committed any crime, without a court order.

The petition comes after Indian courts ruled in favour of citizens who protested an electronic ID and database, which was subject to widespread abuse and hacking.

The petitioner said Sri Lanka citizens ran the risk of hacking as the database would become a magnet for hackers, and be abused by interested parties for personal or political gain.

The regulations sought data on the person, his family, children, spouse, building an entire family tree in a central database. The regulation also seeks divorce case files and email addresses.

"…the collection of a full family tree of all citizens with information concerning each person offers little or no public service or benefit,” the petitioner said. "However, it would enable the identification and monitoring of relatives of a particular individual and will enable the targeting of family members of opponents for personal or political gain."

The database is being built after the public was told that an electronic identity card would be provided.

The petitioner said confidential personal information taken from citizens by the state is not adequately protected from disclosure to third parties.

"The Commissioner General would have virtually unrestricted access to any information concerning any citizen recorded with any public authority," the plaint said. "Personal information of a confidential nature required in terms of the regulations are not adequately protected from disclosure to third parties. The Commissioner General and the State would effectively have at its disposal an index to all official and quasi-official records relating to a person and thus, through cross-references, the key to a total life history of every individual"

"Enter a vehicle number and discover the owner, and obtain a full profile of the owner and his family. Enter a phone number or email address of a person, and obtain a full profile of the owner and his family."

The petitioner told the court that the regulations violated the right to privacy of citizens, which is recognised in the chapter on fundamental right and articles 10,11,12,13 and 14 of the constitution. The Supreme Court is due to take up the case on 12 October.

The petition comes in the wake of widespread hacking and abuse of an electronic ID database in India, for which courts have already started giving relief to citizens.

Britain, which started building an electronic ID, has already scrapped it and repealed the law. (Colombo/Oct09/2017)


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