The current Aadhaar card and data privacy debate speaks to an important aspect of a landmark government programme to improve public service delivery. The legal and technological framework of Aadhaar, one of the largest biometrics-based identification systems in the world, vis-à-vis privacy, has been the subject of recent discussions.
In fact, debates on the merits of Aadhaar, and whether it improves government programmes and budgets, allows for social and financial inclusion, or promotes citizen-centric governance, still dominate public discourse.
Informing People About Aadhaar
Parting With Personal Data
It is, therefore, unsurprising that most Indians readily part with their personal information when asked to do so.
Raising Awareness About Privacy
Basic information on what is personal information, consent, best practices, opt-out options, and sale of personal data would serve as a useful starting point for the vast majority of the public that is not clued into debates of personal data and privacy.
Hold Govt Accountable for Data Leaks
Educators should speak on how personal information can be misused in various forums, as well as teach students to be more civic-minded in holding officials and governments to account.
Strengthening Public Services
Coaching them would help prevent mishaps like the involuntary leakage of cricketer MS Dhoni’s Aadhaar card details. Public servants would also benefit from timely reminders on existing guidelines for the release of personal information to contractors, public bodies, and service providers. Such a step would help ensure that they use and disclose data in line with the purpose for which it was collected.
As a developing nation of massive size, India today faces unique imperatives and challenges. We would like to put in place robust public programs and develop broadly at a rapid pace.
But this juncture is also an opportunity to balance pace with mindfulness, take a pause, and plug the knowledge gaps that will arise. In the case of data privacy, increasing public awareness and expertise would go a long way towards strengthening programs like Aadhaar and in turn, bolstering its services to the people.