Amidst concerns regarding Aadhaar data leak, a look at how the unique identification system actually adheres to the principles of privacy
Privacy and data protection concerns have become serious in a digital world due to ease of search and aggregation, with or without Aadhaar. Type any name in Google and it will throw up thousands of results, giving data/information publicly available. Hence, the responsibility falls on organisations which collect data from individuals to protect it.
If a state government puts bank account details of MNREGA workers or the PAN details on its portal then one doesn’t need an Aadhaar number to find any information – simply the name will do. There may be multiple people with that name. But so what! You can always find the person with their other attributes, if available publicly.
Hence, each data custodian must become conscious of their responsibility to protect their customer’s data. Aadhaar has been designed as a digital identity platform, which is inclusive, unique and authenticable to participate in any digital transaction. This has transformed service delivery in our country, providing huge convenience to citizens and substantial reduction of leakages. Direct benefit transfer, subscription to various services and authentication at the point of service delivery are some benefits.
The UID project has been aware of privacy and data protection issues since the very beginning and has taken every step, as per the best practices available in the world, to ensure they are not violated. The general law on privacy is beyond the ambit of the UIDAI. With the Aadhaar Act in place, let us discuss the provisions relating to privacy and data protection in the Act.
UIDAI’s strategy document
Unlike many countries, India does not have a law on privacy. The law relating to it has been evolved by the courts through various judicial pronouncements over the years. Interestingly, the former UIDAI chairman, Nandan Nilekani, had written to the PM as early as in May 2010 suggesting a need for the privacy law. The government prepared a draft bill on Right to Privacy but it was not turned.