NADRA fails to develop central repository for multi-purpose database

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–Absence of central data repository causing serious national security concern, privacy issue for citizens

–Interior Division now all out for development of National Data Repository (NDR)

ISLAMABAD: National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has so far failed in developing the central data repository of a multi-purpose database and unregulated data sources continue to be a serious national security concern and a privacy issue for citizens.

NADRA, which was established in 2000 to register all citizens, has failed in developing a central data repository of multi-purpose database which has resulted in a lack of proper utilization of data collected from sources within and outside the government.

A meeting to discuss the issue of a national data repository, of data protection and sharing of data was held on September 7 at the Prime Minister’s Office. Therein, the Interior Division was directed to present a summary for the federal cabinet to tackle these issues.

Reportedly, Interior Division, prior to submitting a summary before the federal cabinet, solicited approval from the Cabinet Committee on Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) on the proposals. The summary, titled “Development of National Data Repository, Data Protection & Sharing of Data”, dated November 26, 2020, was approved.

The CCLC advised that the NADRA will collaterally pursue the legislation related to data protection; once the data protection is in the field, only then the data repository initiative shall be brought into play.

Documents available with Pakistan Today said that CCLC was also informed that, to create synergy among multiple databases at a national level, there is a need to establish a National Data Repository (NDR).

It is also learnt from documents that the Interior division has apprised the CCLC that NADRA Ordinance, 2000 authorizes NADRA to establish a National Data Warehouse (NDW) in order to integrate, standardize and regulate all private data.

Similarly, NADRA is empowered by the ordinance to make appropriate regulations in this regard. Section 5 (94) (f) of NADRA Ordinance, 2000 further empowers the federal government to entrust or vest NADRA with any other function or power which is supplemental, incidental, or consequential to any of NADRA’s powers, functions, objections and purpose which invariably includes the establishment and maintenance of NDW as aforesaid.

As per documents, it was further proposed that a comprehensive legislative cover should be provided to NADRA by amending NADRA Ordinance, 2000 and that the draft amendment may be approved for legislation by law division.

Sources also told that regulation of NDR can be resolved through an omnibus provision in NADRA Ordinance, 2000 instead of individually amending the numerous laws relating to the user or feeder agencies. They said that in case any difficulty arises in the accomplishment of the objectives of NDR including data sharing, NADRA may escalate the matter to the concerned federal, provincial or local government or other entity for necessary administrative or legislative measures.