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Introducing RTI in School and College syllabi will prevent Misuse of Right to Information Act, says Goa’s Chief Information Commissioner Prashant Tendulkar

In the coastal state, officials from village panchayats and municipalities were more errant vis a vis dissemination of information sought by applicants under the aegis of the legislation

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Panaji, November 4, 2016: Misuse of the Right to Information Act can be prevented by introducing the RTI in school and college syllabi, Goa’s Chief Information Commissioner Prashant Tendulkar said on Friday.

The top official said that in the coastal state, officials from village panchayats and municipalities were more errant vis a vis dissemination of information sought by applicants under the aegis of the legislation.

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“We are targeting for the subject (RTI) to be taught in schools and colleges because they (students) will realise the importance of the rights of citizens…,” Tendulkar told IANS on the sidelines of a media event organised by the State Information Commission in Panaji.

Asked about the misuse of the RTI act, as alleged repeatedly by ruling politicians in the state, Tendulkar said: “We don’t dispute this. There is misuse to some extent. So, therefore there should be uniform awareness among youths, so that when they grow they become informed citizens of the state.”

“They should know that finally when they are going to file an application under RTI, they are going to drain the resources of the state. They should see that the person or PIO (Public Information Officer) is not there only for the purpose of imparting information. RTI should be used in a rational way,” Tendulkar added.

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The top official also announced the launch of the RTI Bharat Yatra, which will involve a specially customised vehicle, which will travel across Goa from November 5 to 18, to disseminate information about the RTI legislation and its practical uses, with the help of multi-media tools.

The vehicle has already travelled through the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir. PIOs in the state will also be trained as part of the RTI-on-wheels programme.

Tendulkar said that sometimes PIOs who are officially tasked with dissemination of information under the RTI act, withhold information on purpose. The commission should be given more powers to rein in such errant officials.

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“Whether you are pressurised or not, it is the PIO who is responsible for this. If any penalty is imposed, it is imposed on you (PIO) and not on the person who is pressurising you… Sometimes PIOs are doing this purposely too. In these cases, they deserve punishment,” Tendulkar said.

“(Government) departments which are prone for this (withholding of information) are village panchayats and sometimes municipalities,” Tendulkar said. (IANS)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?