After the incidents of compromising important data of registered families during the ongoing campaign of computerised national identity cards (CNICs) re-verification, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) in collaboration with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has evolved a system to check whether the mobile number was registered with the family or not before sending the family tree details in reply to every request.
The new system is likely to start operating in a couple of days after which every request will get a reply from Nadra, whereas such requests at present are not being replied or an answer is being sent that “presently, NADRA doesn’t have data on your mobile number and cannot entertain your request at this time. Please try again later”.
The campaign for re-verification of registered families has been launched from July 1. Initially, reply was sent back against every request. However, some people sent the CNIC numbers of high-profile families to collect their data. Nadra stopped data reply on family tree request received via an SMS to 8008 after the authorities identified this problem. Under the campaign, family members can verify their family data by sending the CNIC number to 8008.
A Nadra spokesperson said the registered families would be able to report individuals illegally registered under their family tree to the authorities. He confirmed that some incidents of compromising the data were noticed.
“We have indentified that some requests were sent from unauthorised numbers to attempt to get family details and information of CNIC which was not registered with these numbers, and it required a change in the verification system to maintain security and secrecy,” he said.
To protect the registered families’ data, a new system was being evolved and the reply to a request for family tree data would be sent to only those mobile phone numbers which were already registered with the existing families, he said.
He added that if someone was not getting reply to his SMS send to 8008 or getting no availability of family data reply, he must call the NADRA helpline and update his number against his CNIC. Once he would update his mobile number against a particular CNIC, the family tree request would be entertained, he said.
A top PTA official said they had instructed all the cellular operators for evolving a foolproof mechanism for the CNICs re-verification. “As PTA doesn’t keep data of any user rather stores its cellular operators’ data, so a common automated platform has been evolved in which the applicant will send request to existing short code of 8008,” he said.
After receiving a request for family tree from an individual, the Nadra system would send the required details to that system to cross check the requested CNIC and whether the number was registered with the specific CNIC or not, he said.
According to the PTA official, if the mobile number is registered with the requested CNIC details then the Nadra will send back the family details to that particular request, otherwise no detail will be shared.
“This will protect the CNIC registered data information which is very sensitive and can be misused,” he added.
Earlier, PTA and Nadra had jointly completed a successful exercise of mobile SIMs re-verification which seemed to be impossible at the time of the start, he said. He added that successful re-verification of mobile numbers proved the government’s commitment to remove unauthentic or wrong entries from the existing data to maintain on law and order situation.
A Nadra official said initially, the proactive approach of checking the registered family member was not planned. It was decided in the initial plan that the Nadra would send an SMS to each family head about his registered family members’ details to recheck and confirm whether it was correct or any unknown person had been added.
However, he said, the SMS campaign for requesting the registered family members was also initiated after getting a positive response from the public. He hoped that the entire Nadra data would be cleaned once the campaign was concluded.
By Jawwad Rizvi