17 October 2005, 15:05
Russian Orthodox Church hierarchs see problems in the system of electronic identification of citizens in the countries of former USSR
Moscow, October 17, Interfax - The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church addressed the authorities of the CIS and Baltic countries with an appeal to treat the problem of changing over to the system of electronic identification of citizens tactfully.
‘There is nothing sinful in using the latest technical achievements, including electronic ones, to keep records of the citizens. However, along with certain technical advantages, the development of electronic means of identification of individuals conceals many dangers’, - the address of the Synod circulated Monday says.
In particular, the hierarchs think that ‘dependence of an individual on the unavoidable technical failures, errors and negligence of personnel or intervention of conspirators is increasing’.
Also, a possibility of centralized gathering of information about private life of the citizens and their convictions is not excluded, - the Synod thinks and warns that ‘this imperils the rights and freedom of persons and makes total control over human life possible’.
These fears have been voiced many times by the believers. Therefore, members of the Synod expressed certain wishes to alleviate the concern of Orthodox Christians.
For instance, the hierarchs indicated the danger of gathering and keeping information about private life of people, in particular about their religious and political choice, health, contacts, travels, etc.
Besides, the document says, ‘all people must know what kind of information their ‘electronic dossiers’ contain and have an opportunity to delete obsolete information’.
The Holy Synod also considers important to work out electronic system of registration openly and under public control and to take measures to protect personal information and to increase liability for its illegal use.
‘The items of personal identification should not harm peoples’ health, humiliate their honor and dignity. Certain kinds of such items that could be implanted in human body are unacceptable’, the address reads.
The hierarchs also think that people should not be given certain code instead of their names in registration systems. ‘Like passport number, the registration numbers can be applied to document or record in a data base rather than to a person’, the document notes.
The Synod considers an alternative for those who refuse to participate in a new identification system for different reasons the most principal thing. It is necessary not to make these people marginals’.
The Synod called upon Orthodox Christians to remember that ‘taking or not taking of the new documents including those with electronic information on natural characteristics of human body should not be a reason for mutual judgement among Christians, for sowing discord and schism in the Church’.