Citizens’ profile in electronic registry

New unit under Defence Ministry will issue Electronic NICs; State institutions will have access to personal details of any Lankan
By Anthony David

An Electronic National Registry project under the Ministry of Defence costing more than Rs 14.5 billion will store personal data of all Sri Lankans. The issue of a new Electronic National Identity Card (ENIC), as announced by the Government in July this year, will be issued free to all Sri Lankans based on the data stored in this Registry. This will replace the NICs issued by the Department for the Registration of Persons.

Such data will also be sold to state sector institutions, financial institutions and others approved by the Ministry. In addition, law enforcement agencies will have easy access to verify personal details of any Sri Lankans within minutes, under the new project.

Besides the National Persons Registry and the Electronic National Identity Card, the project also incorporates the establishment of a disaster recovery centre.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also Minister of Defence, has told his ministers that the present NIC lacks the sophistication required for the current and future needs of national security. These NICs, he has said, are currently issued through a manual, paper based, protracted process that is troublesome to the Department for the Registration of Persons as well as to the applicants. Hence, he has observed that the issue of secure Electronic National Identity Cards (ENICs) is an “urgent need.”

The Government has rescinded a previous decision in September 2009 to call for tenders for ENICs. The assignment of functions and duties to ministries carried out last year placed the Department for the Registration of Persons (empowered under the Registration of Persons Act No 32 of 1968) to register citizen data and issue NICs under the purview of the Ministry of Defence.

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