Why has the government allowed an insurance company to get personal details of passport applicants and is subjecting them to promotional content?
Automation in processes certainly has made Passport applications painless. However, with the advancement of technology, it appears that the marketers are willing to obtain your personal information at any cost. And the government is obliging. So, while filing your online application for passport, make sure to read every field and select only those options that are applicable to you.
The case in point is, while filing passport application form on passportIndia.gov.in, under the self-declaration, you are supposed to choose some option for obtaining additional services and facilities. However, you must read the terms and conditions for these additional services. For example, while accepting to get an SMS to know the status of your passport application, you should know that this is a paid service. In addition, you need to agree to accept some promotional content along with the SMS alerts. But more about this later.
What is most shocking, is that the default option under the additional benefit for passport applicant comes checked automatically. The default option is nothing but your consent to share all your personal data with an insurance company, Cholamandalam MS General Insurance (Chola MS). Earlier it was Tata AIG for life insurance. The (default-selected) option says, "YES, share my name, contact details, gender, application type and educational qualification with Chola-MS for Chola Shubh Yatra Travel INSURANCE products/plans."
We asked Tata Consultancy Services (TCS, which manages all the Passport Seva Kendra-PSK across the country) about allowing a third party vendor to access personal details of passport applicants.
In an email reply, an official from TCS said, "Explicit consent is sought from an applicant for sharing personal details. The name of the company (Chola MS for example) and the purpose for which the data will be shared is explicitly stated. In this case, it is for Shubh Yatra Travel Insurance - a product Chola has specifically come up for Passport Applicants. The applicant needs to explicitly select the checkbox marked YES (it is NOT selected by default) in case he would like to share his details (mentioned again-name, contact number etc). If he is not interested, he clicks on the checkbox marked NO. You will appreciate that which data is shared and with whom, is transparently stated and the applicant may choose to click on the checkbox if he has interest in the offer."
Now, coming back to the SMS alerts, you need to pay Rs30 at the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) as onetime enrolment charges. Unfortunately, despite paying money, there is no guarantee that you would escape from promotional messages.
The portal states: "With enrolment for this service, I agree to receive SMS updates from Passport Seva, which may also contain promotional content. I also agree to pay the charges for the SMS that I would send to Passport Seva as per my mobile service operator tariff norms."
The question is, when the applicant is paying money to obtain services, why should he be subjected to breach of privacy? Why should the applicants share her personal details with a third party? In addition, when you are paying to receive SMS alerts, why you should be subjected to promotional content? Hope the authorities take proper note of this and initiate rectification measure at the earliest.
Taliban terrorists killed atleast 100 children in horrific attack on an Army run school in Peshawar.
The Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), today attacked a Pakistan Army-run school in Peshawar, and killed at least 100 children among 131 total casualties, in retaliation for the Pakistan Army's operation 'Zarb-e-azb'. The attack, which began at mid-day, targetted school children and the Taliban had officially claimed responsibility for the attack.
At the time of the attack, around 500 students and children were said to be inside the school. An estimated five to six terrorists reportedly started firing inside classrooms and took over parts of the building. The terrorists were said to be wearing suicide vests.
TTP spokesman Muhammad Khorasani was quoted by the media as saying, “They include target killers and suicide attackers. They have been ordered to shoot the older students but not the children.”
“It's a revenge attack for the army offensive in North Waziristan," reported Reuters, quoting a TTP spokesperson.
As PM Nawaz Sharif and Pakistani Army Chief rushed to Peshawar, condemnation and condolences also poured in from around the world. Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “This dastardly & inhuman attack exposes the real face of terrorism. My heart goes out to the families of those children who got killed by the terrorists in Peshawar." PM Modi also expressed condolences after his election rally in Jammu and Kashmir.
Official word on whether the attack had been neutralised was not forthcoming in the 6th hour of the attack.
$94 billion in black money moved out of India in the year 2012 alone, while China tops the chart of illicit money outflows
Global Financial Integrity's (GFI) latest report on black money outflows from developing and emerging economies, for the year 2012, placed India at 3rd place in a list headed by China.
The report also said that between 2003 and 2012, the total black money outflow from India was a whopping $439 billion.
Over the 10 year period covered by GFI, India was placed an overall 4th in the rankings, however, its rank at 3rd place was for the year 2012. GFI said that black money or 'Illicit Financial Flows', which is the umbrella term for such money, had cost emerging economies a record $991.2 billion in 2012.
The report also stated that $6.6 trillion was lost by the developing world between 2003 and 2012. “As this report demonstrates, illicit financial flows are the most damaging economic problem plaguing the world’s developing and emerging economies,” GFI President Raymond Baker said.
He added that, “Most troubling, however, is the fact that these outflows are growing at an alarming rate of 9.4% per year—twice as fast as global GDP.”
In the year 2012, the BRICS countries were fully represented in the top 10 illicit money exporters. Over the 10-year period, South Africa slipped below the top ten, but the rest stayed firmly in the top 10.
Black money featured heavily in the Lok Sabha election this year, but next to nothing seems to have come in the way of stern action against such wealth. The GFI president expressed hope that a global concerted effort may help address the problem better and help drive the world towards the otherwise unachievable UN Development Goals.