Imagine life 30 years back. Your ‘location’ was not known by many people, let alone agencies. If you didn’t have a land phone, which was quite a possibility, it was very difficult to locate you outside your home or office/ work place. Unless you are a famous person, your permanent address is known only to your office or co-workers, friends and people in your locality. If someone had to find you, he or she had to come to your office or house to know your current location.

But now?

There may be the same number of individuals knowing your current location, and even fewer as people travel much more frequently than 30 years ago. Sometimes even your family members do not know where you have gone. To know that they have to call you on your mobile phone, and you have to tell the truth! But, at the same time, there are hundreds of entities (apps) from around the world trying to know your ‘location’ every second. Thousands of them already know your location. They follow you wherever you go. You are least bothered because you do not know what harm they can do by following you? And why? You have done nothing wrong!

Besides the apps, a number of organisations like banks, insurance companies, governments, car dealers, hospitals, shop owners etc., know your address. In all, lakhs of people – good or bad – know your address and location every moment. You don’t know if this can be harmful to you, ever. Nobody knows. But the world is running this way. You have to accept it!

The government itself has many agencies having your bio data and even biometrics. Aadhar, passport and even office attendance record biometrics. National Population Register is another platform where details of all people residing in India are being recorded. Even some municipalities have their own registers of citizens. All these are necessary exercises. Rest of the world has done it. We can’t be left behind.

One such mechanism is the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Bill which seeks to keep records of all citizens living especially in urban areas. However, the Bill has drawn controversy following NGOs’ opposition to bringing indigenous people under its ambit. Some amendments have been prepared and likely to be tabled in the coming assembly session. Details, which could be sensitive, are not known. However, the Bill will serve little purpose if only non-tribals are to be asked to submit residential records. A law violator can be of any race. Should such elements enjoy privilege just because they are sons of the soil?

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on September 9, 2016)

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