Let us put Ego aside and examine the long term damage that this government and other governments including the opposition parties are causing to the Citizens of Mauritius by implementing the Biometric National Identity Card “BNIC”. Let us stop beating about the bush and prevent the Finance Bill on BNIC going through because our negligence and egocentric attitude will be a “an electronic shackle” for the rest of our lives where our freedom will be compromised forever. Never will we be called a democratic country because of the forceful implementation of the BNIC.
1 Say 99.9% of the Mauritian population today have obtained a BNIC! What process did they go through? 5 years imprisonment & Rs 100,000 fine for refusing to obtain a BNIC. No BNIC! No Pension, No BNIC no bank accounts, No BNIC No Passport…, buying selling constraints of properties etc, the list is endless. Is this what we call Democracy…? The world & our future generation will spit on us!
2 This week, in a Radio Interview with myself Dr Maharajah Madhewoo- RTS, Jeff Lingaya- No to Biometric ID!, were confronted with the shocking intervention of Hon Sawminaden, ICT Minister. I pray, he does not mind but I take this opportunity to highlight a few worrying points he brought up.
(a) We have to follow advanced/disciplined countries, I do not understand which country he is referring to! Is Great Britain not an advanced country? Or is he saying that Singapore with 40 years of same government is an advanced country? We should be aware that Robert Mugabe is against BNIC in Zimbabwe.
(b) We cannot throw away Rs 1.1 Billion rupees in the drain! Is our freedom not worth 1.1 Billion rupees? Be informed that Gemalto, Sagem and Oberture were ready to make our BNIC for less than Rs 450 Million. This new government instead of getting rid of the BNIC altogether as promised pre election, takes further engagements of Rs 600 million as management costs. Can’t we see that this is a weak argument?
(c) He stated that it will be easy to obtain Patients files in hospitals. Be informed that the Bar Code and the Identity numbers are the same. Hence what is the use of the Biometric Data in this case? His arguments do not hold water. He further states that the card reader will enable to distinguish if the finger prints and the minutiae match in case it is a fake ID Card. This means the TIC minister concedes that this card can be cloned already. We were told in the Supreme Court that this card is made of seven layers and cloning is impossible. On the other hand, it also means that there will be data of ID stored so that it can match the ones on the card, when we are aware storage of personal data is unconstitutional.
(d) We heard about E-health? Where is the information going to be kept? Privacy of someone will be compromised for someone reading one’s card can be prejudiced as being an Aids patient, homosexual, having Syphillis …. Errors in input of data cannot be overlooked. Everyone cannot have access to a Card reader to verify time and time again that an error has been entered in one’s card!
(e) I talked about over 50,000 foreign workers in this country who use their Passport as Identity, whereas our passports cannot account for an Identity Proof! This is very demeaning. We have airway corridor opened to visitors across the world including terrorists and they are not under any obligations to produce a Biometric Identity. Are we not shocked yet?
Allow me to raise a few more points:-
• I make reference to Reputed Dictionaries and an Identity Card does not include Biometrics. Hence this newly introduced card is a Biometric Identity Card and not simply an Identity card.
• Make no mistake; if a BNIC is hacked or compromised, you are hacked or compromised for life and even after death. Is it not time yet to think again? Dear Parliamentarian friends, I beg you to value and respect your positions for this is our future and the future of generations we are playing with!
• The Privy Council could not be pressed enough by my Counsel Hon Sanjeev Teeluckdharry that this penalty was excessive in a country like Mauritius. The current penalties being reduced, but our freedom in democratic society continues to be threatened. Even if the charge is of one cent only, a criminal charge is unavoidable. This is total dictatorship.
• Furthermore, the current government convinced the JCPC that a card reader will not be used in Mauritius; already now this is being pushed through the Courts. Do we not realise how cheap we are portraying ourselves?
• A second contempt has been made by this government against the Supreme Court. At no time did the Court grant permission to store data of someone for seven days. Seven seconds are enough to transmit sensitive data from an electronic server.
• Kindly note that terrorists are ready to blow themselves up after their deeds, and a BNIC is no deterrent, on the other hand terrorists can use fake BNIC which can be more problematic. Already from Mr Sawminaden’s discussion, we are aware that the BNIC can be cloned.
• Do not forget WPC Shirley Mckie and Oregon Lawyer Brandon Mayfield “Madrid Bombing” were wrongly accused through false finger prints.
• In Great Britain, Nick Clegg mentioned that the BNIC is Intrusive, Wasteful and Bureaucratic. The card was thrown out of circulation and dumped. I guess we the citizens of this country need some respect from all parties, be they in power or in opposition. Do not sit arms crossed for this will have serious bearings for you to live with for the rest of your lives!
I hope that my prayers be answered! To which I say AMEN!
Dr Maharajah Madhewoo
FRIPH, CIEH. PgDMS
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