Advocata Institute fellow Ravi Ratanasabapathy expressed his concerns on the recently passed enabling legislation that allows for an electronic national ID card, digitizing the current system. Whilst some have argued that digitizing the ID card will offer practical benefits, those concerned about privacy and the creation of of a surveilence state are concerned.
According to the Department of Registration of Persons, in addition to biometrics, the proposed system also seeks to gather information such as family details and eligibility to receive welfare (Samurdhi), etc. for all Sri Lankans 15 years of age and above. The idea is to maintain information relating to all citizens in a single database.
Now if you think that that sounds like an Orwellian nightmare waiting to happen, you’re not alone. Management Accountant and Fellow at Advocata Institute, Ravi Ratnasabapathy, has raised similar concerns of the proposed e-NIC potentially standing in the way of civil liberties. Speaking to Roar in his personal capacity, Ratnasabapathy said the information obtained could easily be abused.
“The e-NIC is not merely a digital version of our existing NIC. The card is only the front end for a central database that can collect any information on a citizen. The Act does not limit the information that can be collected; there is a catch-all clause of ‘any other information,’ and the Commissioner General [of Department of Registration of Persons] seems to have a free hand to order whatever they want. The database will enable the state to build a profile of each citizen that can easily be abused to target and attack perceived “opponents,”” he said.