“Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds”.
Has it come to this, eh? Well, maybe…and the culprit this time:- Aadhar, is being touted as the point of clash. You have been thinking all this time that this uber-cool concept by the UPA floated under the mentoring of Infosys co-founder, “the” Nandan “the” Nilekani was the next thing in the age of identification. We thought that the popular woes regarding the hassles of shuffling different identification documents whenever you are applying for something like passport, bank account will be dealt a big blow but lo! It seems our privacy has been bombed….kaboom!
I dug up the past news headlines over a cup of coffee after watching the video to get the gist of exactly what’s the furore all about? We live in the age of betrayal, it’s like whatever you start following, goes out there and betrays you: From cricket fixing to all the coalgate stuff to the much applauded Aadhar!
The issue is that Aadhar is not statutory. A statute refers to the fact that a scheme like Aadhar has to be presented in the parliament and subsequently obtain its approval and then become binding on the citizens. As of now Aadhar has been floated as a voluntary scheme of identification by the Cabinet of UPA along with the Planning Commission.
You may ask if it is voluntary in principle then what is the big issue I am blabbering about? My dear friend, that’s where the cheekiness of government steps in. The direct benefit transfer scheme on LPG connection have Aadhar as the mandatory condition for you to be eligible for subsidy and this is the thing Supreme Court ruled against!
Did you get the point!? Ok, let’s now talk about the quote which basks in its glory there at the top: Privacy, the most talked about and vulnerable asset you and I have. Dear Aadhar card holders, remember the biometric scans performed to record a copy of your retina and finger prints?? Are you sure that this information is in safe hands. Well, I hope it is but the reputation Indian governance has “built up” (or crumbled down to) makes me feel that somewhere the security of my data will be compromised.
Summarsing the questions:
- Parliament’s Standing Committeeon Finance rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 but the government did not modify the Bill and bring it back. Further is it is not unconstitutional to use an executive order to implement a scheme which has been rejected in the above manner?
- Who will ensure the safety of private data like iris, fingerprints and stuff?
- The centres for Aadhar are run by private vendors where undocumented immigrants might also apply for Aadhar! Is the government focusing on its illegal immigrant vote bank?
- The voluntary part of Aadhar and then making it binding for things like LPG has created an ambiguity over the authenticity of Aadhar?
- Why did the government squander 50,000 crores when it had inconsistent stand over this policy?
Hmmm…the situation has turned messy! But what now? See the government should take the following steps:
- Make UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) statutory.
- Take responsibility of the glitches this scheme is facing and correct out the stuff.
- Create awareness amongst the junta, I mean the interview in the video embedded here clearly shows the “awareness levels” amongst people.
- Handle Issues of illegal immigrants getting Aadhar and let go of the “Vote Bank” politics.
- Assurance for Security
“Except for the restricted access to the central server, there is no other mechanism to ensure that the critical data — collected at the expense of valuable time of citizens — is properly uploaded to the database”- The Hindu.
Lastly I am saying you all to shun cynicism and question! In the process of finding answers you’ll have your rights.
P.S: I do not blame the techie Nandan Nilekani, I think he is doing a fine job in terms of introducing this novel technology for our welfare but the blame lies with the policy makers in poor framing of rules.