Sunday, April 4, 2010

E-Surveillance At The Cost Of Human Rights

India is presently going through a storm of quandary and unpredictability. In order to streamline and strengthen its internal security, India is taking haste decisions that would ultimately prove wastage of public money and violation of their valuable civil liberties, says Praveen Dalal. Experts have been questioning the inadequacy of safeguards for prevention of abuses and violation of civil liberties by projects like unique identification (UID), national intelligence grid (NATGRID), etc. The project executors, however, did no pay much heed to the same. The results were not difficult to anticipate. The Natgrid project has been stalled due to inadequate privacy safeguards and possibility of political misuse after experts like Praveen Dalal suggested inclusion of the same.

The National Population Register has been launched countrywide, after an initial foray in the coastal belt. This is not data collection in a vacuum. It is set amidst NATGRID (National Intelligence Grid), the UID (the Unique Identification project), and a still-hazy-but-waiting-in-the-wings DNA Bank. Each of these has been given spurs by the Union Home Ministry, with security as the logic for surveillance and tracking by the state and its agencies. The benign promise of targeted welfare services is held out to legitimise this exercise.