Jammu & Kashmir to introduce unique IDs for each family, Opposition raises privacy concerns

The JK Family ID will be used to determine eligibility of beneficiaries of various social welfare schemes, the Union Territory administration said

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The Jammu and Kashmir administration will create a database of all families living in the Union Territory and allot them a unique alpha-numeric code, news agency reported on Sunday, citing officials.

The database – JK Family ID – will be used to determine eligibility of beneficiaries of various social welfare schemes.

“Once the data in the JK Family ID database is authenticated and verified, a beneficiary will not be required to submit any more document to avail a service,” Prerna Puri, the commissioner secretary of the Information Technology Department of Jammu and Kashmir.

The move is part of the “Digital J&K Vision Document” unveiled by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at an e-governance conference held in Katra city of Reasi district last month, according to the news agency.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has hailed the move, while Kashmiri parties and the Congress have raised privacy concerns over the database.

According to the vision document released last month, the data in the JK Family ID database would be used to determine “eligibility through automatic selection of beneficiaries for receiving social benefits”.

“The database would identify each and every family in J&K and would collect the basic data of the family, provided with the consent of the family, in a digital format,” the document added.

The compilation and management of the database will follow the applicable laws and regulations of data protection in India. The Jammu and Kashmir administration also plans to formulate an information security policy and a cyber security framework for the Union Territory, the document added.

However, Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti tweeted that the decision is “emblematic of the widening trust deficit” between Kashmiris and the authorities.

“Kashmiris are viewed with deep suspicion & this is another surveillance tactic to tighten the iron grip on their lives,” Mufti said.Congress spokesperson Ravinder Sharma also questioned the government’s intentions while speaking with news agency.

“Why does the government wish to peek into everything?” he questioned. “They already have enough data through Aadhaar and are providing benefits through direct bank transfer DBT mode.”

Sharma also cast doubts on the government’s ability to protect such data, referring to the recent ransomware attack on the database of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi.

National Conference leader Rattan Lal Gupta also questioned the need of a separate database when the administration already has access to Aadhaar details, news agency reported.

However, the BJP welcomed the move and said citizens who have to stand in queues to get various benefits and certificates will benefit once a verified database is prepared.

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