Questions abound over data collection for eGN project

November 29, 2023

The e-Grama Niladhari project was initiated in Sri Lanka in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting the use of online information and services to increase efficiency in government agencies. The Immigration and Emigration Department and the Department of Registration of Persons continue to use digital workflows, which have streamlined services such as passport and National Identity Card issuance, saving citizens time.

The digitization effort extends to the Household Registry maintained by Grama Niladhari officials, with data collection beginning in 2023. The project aims to improve service efficiency and reduce the laborious task of form-filling for various certificates and letters obtained from Grama Niladhari offices.

However, some concerns have been raised on social media about the extensive information required for the e-Grama Niladhari project and the security of data collected through printed forms. Citizens worry about data leaks, fraud, and identity theft.

The e-Grama Niladhari project is aimed at providing technological tools to Grama Niladharis, who are government officials citizens frequently interact with. The project requires Grama Niladharis to collect detailed data from residents in their administrative divisions to confirm residency.

To address data protection concerns, Sri Lanka has enacted the Personal Data Protection Act No.9 of 2022, which allows the public to hold authorities accountable for the personal data gathered. Despite these concerns, there is legislative support in case of data breaches.

Cybersecurity experts suggest more efficient data collection methods, such as providing a data entry platform for Grama Niladhari officials and allowing residents to update their records. They also stress the importance of public awareness and reassurance about the security and authorized access to collected data.

The data collection includes information about homeowners, residents, and household infrastructure, enabling efficient service provisions and certificate issuances through the e-Grama Niladhari portal. Information about the project is available on the 'eGramaNiladhari' YouTube channel.

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