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June 19, 2018

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Nadra only shared CNIC stats with journalists under RTI Law

ISLAMABAD: While the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has shared some CNIC related statistics with some journalists under the Right to Information Law, the authority claims the data has nothing to do with the electoral rolls nor does it contain any personal information even about a single voter.

According to well-placed sources, the data allegedly shared by the Nadra with a section of the media was eventually meant to be shared with journalists by the ECP, as it only contained statistical number about gender, minorities, provincial break-up and age-groups of CNIC users (every 18-year-old CNIC holder is by default a voter) and other stats which in no way could be used by any political party to its advantage.

They said under the Right to Information (RTI) Law, Nadra was supposed to share CNIC related statistics with citizens which did not contain any personal or sensitive information.

Details such as the total number of CNIC holders, their age break-up and religious minorities etc are not considered sensitive or confidential information. Interestingly, once a journalist knows these details about CNIC holders, he or she can easily deduce that every CNIC holder above the age of 18 is a valid voter.

However, the ECP did not like the fact that the data was published by a newspaper before it reached the commission and a letter was written to Nadra on 29th May 2018 in which the commission complained that Nadra officials shared details of voters with “unrelated persons” before it reached the ECP.

The letter added that the Nadra had violated its agreement with the ECP regarding the confidentiality of data. Nadra was not permitted to share data with anyone per our agreement, it asserted.

The ECP demanded that the Nadra chairman conduct an inquiry against those involved in the alleged data leak. Sources said Nadra Chairman Usman Mobin had clarified to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a recent meeting that the authority had not shared any sensitive election related data to any political party.

Meanwhile, a number of TV channels on Monday reported that the PTI chief Imran Khan had directed his party members to submit a petition to the ECP demanding resignation of Nadra chairman over alleged, “leak of sensitive voters data”. But a Nadra spokesperson told The News that the data published by a newspaper does not contain any sensitive information.

He said the Nadra had very limited role in the conduct of election which included preparation of electoral rolls. “Nadra has only shared electoral rolls with ECP and data about a single voter was not shared with any unrelated person or party,” the spokesman said.

The ECP on Monday also issued a statement clarifying that its letter to Nadra had nothing to do with the petition of PTI. According to ECP, no such petition was received yet by the commission and its letter to Nadra was issued on the basis of publication of voters related details in a newspaper on 25th and 28th May, 2018.

When contacted by The News, a spokesperson for the ECP said the commission had yet to receive a written response from the Nadra on its letter dated 29th May. “The ECP is custodian of the voter related data so Nadra cannot share the voter related statistics with anyone else,” he said. The spokesman said the ECP would decide possible action against Nadra once a detailed response was received from the authority.

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