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Organizations of Workers, Women, Neighborhoods, Students all Stand Up Against New ID Cards


LALIT and the Confederation Travailleurs de Secteur Prive held a Press Conference Friday 6 September to announce that 17 organizations have already signed up to the petition against the new ID cards that the Ramgoolam Government is introducing. The petition is being jointly steered by the two organizations, as the beginning of a protest movement against the new Identity cards that contain bio-metric and other personal data.

Reeaz Chuttoo, presiding, said that the new cards were intrusive into privacy of individuals, and that the data was available to the State and even to the secret services of foreign States. An individual will not even know what is on the card nor to what other information it is linked. He said that fingerprints are part of personal information that should not be removed from people and stored by the State or by employers. He also deplored the billions of rupees being laid out on this project, when jobs could be created, for example, in a housing project, which would at the same time provide shelter for the thousands of homeless families in Mauritius.

Lindsey Collen said that Amendments to the ID law included two dangerous parts:

First, the law provides that people must produce to ID cards to “every person” who is entitled to ask them to produce them. For this “every person” read, in the first instance, any Police Officer. For the first time there is a statutory obligation to produce an ID card. The card has to be produced either on the spot or within a delay and at a time specified by the person demanding to see it. The clause is broad enough, in it drafting to make it an offense not to produce a card to someone in the Private Sector, like a Bank. (section 7 (1) of the National Identity Card Act will now read: “Every person may (a) in reasonable circumstances and for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of another person; or (b) where he is empowered by law to ascertain the identity of another person, request that other person to produce his identity card” and “he shall (a) forthwith produce his identity card to the person making the request; or (b) where he is not in possession of his identity card, produce his identity card within such reasonable period, to such person and at such place as may be directed by the person making the request.” )

Second, the law provides a clause that allows further information as may be “prescribed” to be added to Civil Status information in the chip. So, when the Government is busy making assurances about not keeping certain information on the cards, you will notice that they always cloak their denials in vague language. The truth is they do not, and cannot, give guarantees for the future. This is the danger. (The Civil status Act has 28 bits of information, already and a new clause has been added stipulating: “such other particulars as may be prescribed.” So, the sky is the limit, for information that may be in the central ID data base.

Lindsey Collen also said that the Government is being cagey about how much a new card will cost you, in the event yours is lost. Poor people are exposed to card-loss much more than the rich, and the cost, even if initially minimal to get us to “swallow the project”, will increase rapidly to the level of “cost retrieval”, which is the Xavier Duval watch-word. It is not clear if you will need a new card, or if someone will amend it, when you stop being a student, when you marry, when you change address, when you go on pension of any kind. If you need a new one, who will pay? If it is amended, this opens up worries about who these people are who can amend cards so regularly.

In fact, the ID cards will be on a Government Online Data-Base in Ebene. There will be more information on each citizen in the central data-base than on the Cards, but linked to the Card system. For example, there will be all 10 fingerprints. This has already been made public by Government. In any case, the justification for the cards is that you will be able to do all sorts of things with them. It is important for people to concentrate not just on what is “on the ID Card” (or on its encoded memory card), but what is in the centralized data bank.

This entire data-base will be available to Government officers, officially. And not to us. We do not even know how many officers or who. Nor, in the future, do we know what sort of Government we will have that will have access to information about ourselves which we do not have. There is not yet even a “Freedom of Information Act” in Mauritius.

Data will also obviously be available unofficially to those Government officers who happen to be corrupt. Everyone in Mauritius routinely received SMSs from either Emtel or Orange for invitations to mainstream political parties. Obviously these have been divulged to them from the inside. The mainstream politicians and the Press believe that the main problem with Mauritius is “corruption” and yet they are not protesting at all about the danger this data represents in the hands of corrupt officials.

The data will clearly be available to the Singapore State Company and two private companies in Singapore, who are installing and looking after the system.

In addition, certain links with the data-base will be run by the Private Sector. The Government has announced that it is in the process of negotiating with the Mauritius Bankers’ Association, for example. The cards are due to be used by private Transport Companies; it has not been made clear if the Bus Conductor will have to read the card with his eyes, or whether a machine will do it. Similarly, there have been hints that the cards will be linked to electronic voting, another source of grave concern.

The Data Protection Act specifically allows data to the shared with other States. But in any case, since the very day of the Press conference, such data bases are known to be routinely decrypted by NSA and GCHQ, despite any bland assurances given by the IT Minister, Tassarajen Pillay Chedumbrum. This face was published in the The Guardian and New York Times as part of the information given to them by Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who used to work for the CIA on contract.

Just as the British, the American and the Australian people rose up against such national ID cards with biometric data on them, so the people of Mauritius must rise up. Already lawyers are speaking out: Roshi Bhadain and Raouf Gulbul have spoken out in the Press, as has Sanjeev Teeluckdharry. There is a Common Front being developed by the Regrupma Travayer Social, who intend to put in a legal challenge, while also opening a petition for individuals to sign.

Alain Ah-Vee and Jane Ragoo, also present at the Press Conference called on any organizations who want to sign up to the petition being steered by the CTSP and LALIT to come forward. They have until 16 September to add their signatures. So far the CITU (with 24,000 members), the Nursing Association, Labaz Intersindikal, First Aiders, Centre Idriss Goomany, the Muvman Liberason Fam, the Private Secondary Education Employees Provident Fund, Association des Consomateurs de L’Ile Maurice, Ledikasyon pu Travayer, Federation of Preschool Playgroups, Les Abeilles Playgroups, JUSTICE: Association Against Violence by Officers of the State, University of Mauritius Students’ Union, Association des Travailleurs Sociaux de Maurice, CTSP (which represents work sectors with 40,000 workers in all), and LALIT.


Etan done ki
Tu dimunn gayn drwa sirkile libreman dan pei,e sa drwa la li existe depi lafin sistem “pas” lepok Langazman,
e ki
Sak dimunn gayn drwa so prayvesi, sanki ni Leta, ni okenn Konpayni prive – ki li konpayni ki zer kart-a-pis la, ki li kit Labank ki pu servi li – gard data lor li ubyen gayn akse a data la,

E, etan done ki
*Nuvo Kart Idantite ki Guvernman pe rod introdir li pu santraliz linformasyon prive, ki kapav dan lavenir inklir lanprint dizital, grup disan, apartenans politik, ladres, kondanasyon Lakur, relizyon, maladi ki u sufer, oryantasyon sexyel, det ki u ena, stati sindikal,etc.

*Nu pa kapav kone, dan lavenir, ki kalite deriv kapav ena dan Leta, ki pu posed e kontrol tu sa data la,

*Deza asterla ena buku koripsyon dan Leta, alor data la pu expoze a sa koripsyon la,

*Deza NIU (SSS) ena akse a tu kalite sirveyans, tab dekut, espyonaz, e li riske ena akse a tu sa data prive la,

*NIU pu kapav instal lanprint kikenn lor enn “scene of a crime” si li ena akse a lanprint dizital sa kikenn la,

*Deza Data Protection Act spesifikman permet avoy done prive enn kikenn ar lazans sekre pei deor,

*Enn konpayni prive Singapor ki pu instal server ek terminal ki lir sa bann kart la, alor li pu ena akse potansyel, e si servi kart pu vote, ena enn risk frod elektoral masiv atraver enn tel konpayni prive la,

*Buku institisyon ek buku dimunn, tu inkoni, pu ena akse a data prive santralize, swa atraver “data base” swa atraver masinn ki lir kart la,

E etan done ki

Lepep plizir pei refiz sistem kart idantite net,
Lepep Grand Bretayn ek Ostrali finn obliz zot Guvernman met aryer, retir zot Smart Card omilye pe sey introdir li,

Nu, bann lorganizasyon ki finn siyne anba,
*Nu pe proteste kont nuvo Kart Idantite, e nu pe fer apel ar Guvernman pu li abandonn so introdiksyon.
*Nu pe reklam amandman Data Protection Act pu rann ilegal sa kalite santralizasyon data lor bann individi.