Aadhaar no panacea

With reference to the editorial, “Mr Nilekani’s warning” (August 11), the present government should not take his words lightly and ignore repeated data security concerns linked to the Aadhaar database raised by Nandan Nilekani himself, the founding chairman of the Unique Identity Development authority of India (UIDAI) and Infosys co-founder. 

His apprehensions about the Aadhaar data getting hacked in the absence of safeguards against the backdrop of the lack of data security and privacy protection are not unfounded. The UIDAI has lodged a complaint against an IIT Kharagpur engineer for illegally accessing the Aadhaar database using an app being developed at his start-up. More such incidents could take place.  

The government has been relying exclusively on Aadhaar data as the means of establishing the identity of Indian citizens. A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court is considering the matter of the right to privacy of Indian citizens and is set to announce its verdict soon. The government, instead of waiting for this verdict, is extending the operational horizon of Aadhaar. For example, the mandatory linking of PAN, driving licence, mobile phones, death certificates with Aadhaar. Even for buying shares and investing in mutual funds, a citizen’s Aadhaar data should be in place. More such surprises could in store. 

The editorial makes a valid point when it says that “currently, there is nothing users know regarding what is happening to their data and this information needs to be given to the people”. Why is the government so adamant on Aadhaar and why is it refusing to hear the voices being raised across the country against this collection of data? Does it believe that if all details of a citizen are logged into the Aadhaar database nothing will ever go wrong? Has it even thought about weeding out a significantly large number of “duplicate and fake” Aadhaar cards, too, as it has done for more than a million “fake and duplicate” PAN cards? Is the finance minister listening?

              Vinayak G    Bengaluru
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