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Opinion

PVT and PSU companies are ready to have access to the crime database

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In a controversial decision, the Center decided to give companies, including state-owned ones, access to the nation’s nationwide crime and criminal database in order to check their background, people familiar with the development said. Currently, companies must make such requests to the police.

The idea, they added on condition of anonymity, is to monetize this data; Companies will be charged for the background check. But internet activists say the move could lead to data misuse and discrimination.

By having access to this repository of data on arrests, convictions, ongoing investigations, court cases and lists of declared offenders, companies will be able to verify people’s criminal records themselves before hiring them.

At this time, only the government and the police have exclusive access to this crucial and sensitive information.

The Home Office (MHA) has already given its approval to monetize the CCTNS national data center, also called the CAS (Core Application Software) Center, located in Shastri Park, New Delhi, for background checks, people familiar with the development said. . . The National Informatics Center (NIC) has been requested to develop a portal for this.

As part of the project, companies will have access to the National Data Center (NDC) database, the National Sex Offender Database (NDSO) and the Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) for which they will have to pay a fee. prescribed rate. The amount of the fee has yet to be decided, the people quoted above said.

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The portal, once developed by NIC, will allow a user (businesses only) to register and request background checks in bulk and pay online. “The system will match the provided details of individuals, such as name, age / age range, state, district and police station of their current and permanent address, with existing criminal records under CCTNS. If a person’s name is found in the data, the user will be able to verify the details, down to the FIR level, in the case of police cases. However, if the person’s name is not in the database, it will show ‘no criminal record found,’ ” said one of the people quoted above.

CCTNS (Crime & Criminals Tracking Network Systems) is a complete and integrated system that connects all police stations and investigative agencies across the country. It has a database that updates in real time details of cases, criminals, courts, fingerprint offices, forensic laboratories, etc. The database also has information on arrests, convictions, indictments, lists of declared and habitual offenders, missing persons, unidentified bodies (UIDB), registered vehicles. It even has photographs and, where appropriate, screenshots.

So far, 97% (15,620) of the 16,098 police stations across the country are already connected to CCTNS. The database has around 280 million records as of December 2020 and is updated every minute.

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Ish Kumar, former director of the National Criminal Records Bureau (NCRB), said: “The current background check process is cumbersome as the application is sent to the police, which takes time. The CCTNS data center has nationwide data that can be verified in seconds. This can help companies to check if their employee has a criminal record somewhere in the country and simultaneously generate some money for the government. Similarly, at a later stage, this data can be used for passport verification, verification of private security guards / agencies across the country. ”

On the possible discrimination by companies of employees who have been acquitted or who have not yet been found guilty. Ish Kumar added: “The government can only provide information. Whether the case (against the employee) amounts to a disqualification depends on company policy ”.

MHA officials declined to comment on the matter.

Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia Policy Director for Access Now and Chairman of the Board of the Internet Freedom Foundation, said: “There is a pattern of government that collects data and makes it available to the industry. The Aarogya Setu app is one example. CCTNS itself has a lot of sensitive data that is problematic and there is no oversight. Giving access to a third party not only infringes on the right to privacy, but can lead to misuse of data, especially when Parliament has not passed the data protection bill ”.

Amber Sinha, director of research at the Center for Internet and Society (CIS), said: “These sensitive data, already suffering from social inequality and discrimination, reaching the hands of companies can lead to further discrimination.”

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