NADRA and FBR recently launched the new tax profiling system containing information about properties, bank accounts, travel history, etc. of 53 million citizens.
Whether the initiative will help the government in achieving its targets is yet to be determined, but the new system has raised concerns of data security breaches in some sectors.
Citizens have voiced concerns about their sensitive data on the portal. Legal experts are dubbing the initiative as unconstitutional, as it violates the fundamental right to privacy.
The government unveiled teh portal on Friday, available on the federal board of Revenue (FBR) and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) websites.
FBR chairman, Shabbar Zaidi, while announcing the launch of the portal assured the public that the security of their data will be ensured. “We will ensure the security of the data. We are not sharing the data even with regional tax offices”, he said.
However, many people remained unassured by the government’s promises.
“Just checked it out. Security is too weak. Should require payment by a card in the name of the payer — as email verification is possible if mobile is not in taxpayer’s name. Just got my data without giving a phone number registered in my name and answering simple questions about family,” marketing consultant Assad Ahmad said on Twitter.
The experts are also alarmed over people’s sensitive data being made available online. According to Umer Gilani, a lawyer who campaigns for the privacy protection, “When over 100 million Pakistani citizens were disclosing their private data to NADRA, the understanding was that NADRA would use it only for issuing them an identity card, and not betray them to the tax-man.”
“NADRA’s decision to merge its database with FBR’s database is unconstitutional. It violates the fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by Article 14 of Pakistan’s Constitution,” said Umer.
He also dubbed the portal as ‘low-security’ and said uploading NADRA data on that portal is a breach of confidentiality and is unsafe.
Many people have pointed out that there are no data privacy laws in place to ensure that citizen data is secure. “In case of any security lapse, (there) would be dire consequences. The law should have been passed before launching the system for the clarity of data privacy,” says Badar Khushnood, Vice Chairman of the award-winning Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES ([email protected]).
Some have also voiced that the critics are actually tax evaders who fear that the new system will identify them. Such individuals are trying to malign the system even before any accident has taken place, said the experts.