Punjab District releases names and addresses of 1094 people in quarantine



In a shocking breach of privacy, the Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar district authorities in Punjab have published a list of people who are currently in Covid-19 related quarantine. The list contains not only the names of such people, but also their addresses. The list was published on a page with an nic.in domain, making it an official government website. SabrangIndia has a copy of this list that is up to date till May 8 and contains details of 1094 people. But we will not publish it due to privacy concerns.  

Earlier too there were instances of such lists being leaked painting a virtual bull eye on their backs. The lists make it easy to target such people.

On March 20, the Rajasthan government made public details of 45 people in Ajmer through newspapers and social media claiming this would help ensure effective containment.      

On March 21, social media and whatsapp groups across Nagpur came alive with a list of people in precautionary quarantine. Times of India reported that the list was made public by the authorities themselves.

On March 24, Mumbai Mirror reported that a list of over 100 people in home quarantine living in the Borivali-Dahisar area of North Mumbai was leaked on social media. Ever since then the people whose names, addresses and phone numbers were leaked are facing harassment and calls from unknown people. It is noteworthy that none of these people were confirmed to be Covid-19 positive, just asked to remain in home quarantine due to foreign travel or coming into contact with someone who had travelled abroad.

On March 26 Medianama reported that the Karnataka government made a similar list public. The publication said, “…the list published by the Karnataka government includes individuals who are not necessarily infected, but have all flown in from a foreign country recently, and have been asked to stay indoors for two weeks. The list contains their door number, PIN code, and which country they travelled from.” Times of India reported that this list had names and addresses of over 19,000 people who had travelled abroad and had returned to Bengaluru as of March 8. Authorities willfully violated privacy of people stating they were forced to do so as people were not complying with quarantine protocol.

A list of 722 people in self-quarantine in Delhi was leaked on March 27. This list was more detailed because it not only contained names, addresses and phone numbers of people who were asked to stay in quarantine following arrival from foreign countries, but also their email addresses and even passport numbers!

The problem with such lists being leaked is not just an invasion of privacy, but also the possibility of identity theft. The data made public can be misused by criminals to obtain legitimate services like credit cards, cell phone numbers, etc. in the name of the persons on the list. These can later be misused and the person whose identity has been stolen will have to pay the price.

But the biggest problem is how vulnerable it makes the people on the list to not just social ostracism, but also targeted violence. In a country where one’s name can clearly indicate their religion and caste, leaking such a list makes it easy for bigots and fundamentalists to hunt down people from persecuted and oppressed sections of society and victimize them further.


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