This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Devadutta Bhattacharjee. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How Aadhar Cards Make Our Private Information More Exposed Than You Thought

More from Devadutta Bhattacharjee

By Devadutta Bhattacharjee:

The Aadhar card registration, a part of the government’s Unique Identification Authority of India, was all the rage a few months back. A normal middle class person would remember standing in lines and having their palm prints taken, retinal scans done and address confirmed through various documents. However, only after billions of people countrywide lined up and later assured themselves that this will be the only identification proof they will need from now on, it was brought into light that the Aadhar card was not in the simplest of terms- legitimate.

aadhar-card2

While its legal enforceability is still being argued, the UID card was intended to be a substitute for all other forms of identification, and some even said that it would render the voter’s ID useless.

What isn’t common knowledge is that it’s not the Aadhar card that is important here, but the unique identification of the individual lies in the number. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, told NDTV, ‘I can tear up the card, as long as I have the number, I don’t need the card.’ The Aadhar Card was continuing in India without the Parliamentary support. But that isn’t even its biggest problem.

How our private information is more exposed than you thought
The Aadhar card makes use of registration machines which are borrowed from private contractors and NGOs to collect information about the citizens. As high-end as it sounds, there are serious security threats to this. Firstly, these machines do not belong to the government of India. Anything which does not belong to the state cannot guarantee that these machines will be wiped clean of the sensitive and private information of its citizens after being used. Secondly, since the UID has been going without parliamentary backing for quite some time, it is very possible that the state itself can misuse the information.

A very crucial loophole the state overlooked was that these machines had no way of actually recognizing if the data is being taken inside India or outside. The data collected can be taken outside the border and used without the knowledge of the owner. In a nation where simple discarded photocopies of ID proofs have a chance of being used in terrorist acts, one can only imagine how large quantities of personal data like this can be misused. Also, a UID card holder’s introduction is enough for any individual without an ID proof to obtain an Aadhar card. Thus, fake IDs can be made with ease with the backing of just one individual with a UID card.

Personal Data Protection act: Is this the answer?
A Personal Data Protection Bill has been proposed to the Parliament. According to this Bill, all personal information of any citizen, including their political affiliation and sexual preferences would be collected in accordance to the provisions of this Act. However, this is only a proposed Bill, and even if it gets approved certain flaws jump out of the official text.

The state gets to decide when it is an exceptional case, like an imminent threat or an illegal act, and violate the norms in this act. Like the preventive detention law, authorities can decide what constitutes as a threat to the national security and can obtain information about the person without notifying him/her.

Why the issue of UID is more relevant than ever now
On the first of July, the former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani met Mr. Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley. With the new government, there have been demands to scrap the Aadhar initiative altogether. Nilekani coaxed the PM not to discontinue this and only four days later in a public speech, Mr. Modi supported his claim, to everyone’s surprise. Mere nine days after this, the budget allotted by Mr. Jaitley showed an increase in the UIDAI grant, from 1,550 crores to a whopping 2,039 crores. Interestingly, it was BJP who didn’t support the Aadhar initiative during its campaigning days.

This recent development and a sea change in the opinions of the government have left a question lingering: what has been done so far to increase the privacy security measures in the whole Aadhar process? Officials would argue that the public information cannot be hacked as they are encrypted files and most of the work is done offline. But when the information extracting source is the culprit here, there is no point in safeguarding the information after it has been taken. Seeing it from that perspective, it is a direct violation of our Fundamental Rights.

James Bovard had said, ‘Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.’ India, the biggest democracy in the world, is yet to realize the power of enlightened masses, but when it does, the government better have the answers ready.

You must be to comment.
  1. MOUSUMI

    Hi Devadutta, thank you for your article. It is enlightening. India is the largest democracy in terms of largest number of voting population in election. But because of poor governance, India is also the den of largest black market economy in the world, while millions still die of poverty and malnutrition: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/interviews/Swiss-accounts-are-a-diversion-Bulk-of-black-money-is-right-here-in-India/articleshow/37879250.cms

    You may like to see the Australian govt’s data protection and privacy system: https://my.gov.au/mygov/content/html/privacy.html
    Maybe, there is something to learn for Indian government in terms of data protection. It is necessary for well-functioning governments in a democracy to gather proper data about citizens for taxation and fair re-distribution of welfare benefits and proper maintenance of essential public services like like education, healthcare and infrastructure.

    We need to find ways for better governance. With such large population, e-governance is the easiest and smartest method, provided data is gathered safely and securely by the government and not by any private agency.

  2. swati

    really intriguing article… really make us wonder how safe we are in our own home land. It would be really nice to know about the alternatives schemes for uid or what can be done to improve the security?Also what can we do as citizens in this matter?

  3. syed basha

    But aadhar card’s application is not done online . You have to go to aadhar card enrolment centre and have to fill the application form for aadhar card.http://aadharcarduidaistatus.in/

More from Devadutta Bhattacharjee

Similar Posts

By Ronak Aazad

By Imran Khan

By Mister August

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below