Google has removed 14 apps from its app store at the request of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), which officially took up the matter with the Alphabet-owned US tech company regarding the breach of personal data of Pakistani residents.
The issue came to light after Nadra discovered that certain apps were illegally using their name and products to obtain unwarranted credibility for their apps and services. Hence, they illegally shared and sold Pakistani residents’ data via these apps.
Nadra Takes Action
In response, Nadra took immediate action and reached out to Google’s president for Asia Pacific, legal head in the region, and vice president for customer solutions. Nadra stated that the personal data breach was “important and urgent” and demanded that all such apps be immediately removed from Google Play Store. Nadra further requested that Google curb such illegal activities of sharing and selling Nadra’s proprietary, sensitive information, which could have serious security implications for Pakistan and breach residents’ privacy.
In a letter to Google, Nadra said, “It is very clear that residents’ data is being illegally shared and sold via these apps, which is harming the privacy of the residents of Pakistan and stealing the data which belong to the federal government of Pakistan.” The letter also informed Google that certain apps were impersonating Nadra or implying they were authorized to provide Nadra products and services to their users and obtain personal data from Pakistani residents.
In response to Nadra’s letter, Google has removed at least 14 apps from its app store. Nadra Chairman Tariq Malik confirmed that the apps had been taken down, and in a statement, he said, “We have written to Google, and they have removed all these apps. We have also introduced an artificial intelligence system to protect citizens’ data.”
Mr. Malik added that after assuming office in 2021, he had voluntarily given up the “super access” to citizens’ data and made this inaccessible even to Nadra’s employees. Besides, the database authority had revived its information security department, which was made dysfunctional after he left the authority in 2014.
The Importance of Data Protection
Data protection has become increasingly crucial in today’s digital world, where personal information is highly valuable and sought-after by hackers and cybercriminals. Nadra’s swift action in addressing the issue of illegal sharing and selling of personal data of Pakistani residents and Google’s prompt response in removing the offending apps from its app store are commendable.
The news of the personal data breach has also caught the attention of other websites and news outlets. According to the Express Tribune, the incident has raised concerns about the country’s cybersecurity measures. The website stated, “The cybercrimes are growing in the country, but Pakistan lacks the proper cybersecurity measures to stop attackers from hacking or stealing data.”
Another website, ProPakistani, highlighted that this is not the first time Pakistani citizens’ data has been compromised. The website stated, “Pakistani citizens’ data has been compromised multiple times, including in 2018 when a Pakistani bank was hacked, and in 2020 when the personal data of 115 million Pakistani citizens was leaked online.”
In conclusion, protecting personal data is of utmost importance in today’s digital age. The recent personal data breach incident in Pakistan has highlighted the need for stronger cybersecurity measures and proactive steps to prevent data misuse. Nadra’s quick action and Google’s prompt response show that public and private entities must work together to protect citizens’ data from unauthorized access and misuse. It is vital to have stringent data protection laws and measures
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