Aadhaar is being seeded with more than 80 services – from banks accounts to phone numbers. Should Aadhaar be made mandatory?
I think that Aadhaar should be made mandatory only after the problems related to its data security, the flawed structure of Aadhaar Act and the controversy surrounding breach of privacy due to Aadhaar gets resolved.
Recently, the second longest hearing (38 days) questioning the constitutional validity of Aadhaar finished and the verdict would be announced soon.
The controversy surrounding Aadhaar is mainly on few things. First, the poor security of the Aadhaar database. There have been instances when Aadhaar details (demographic details) became public due to poor protection measures which have been put in place by UIDAI. For instance, more than 200 government websites made public Aadhaar details of thousands of people. Also, The Tribune reported how Aadhaar details were made available through an agent for as cheap as ₹500.
Secondly, several people have been denied ration at PDS (Public Distribution System) shops due to failed biometric authentication. So, the reliability of the Aadhaar database is also an important aspect to look into.
There are a few flaws in the poorly structured Aadhar Act as well. Clause 9 of Aadhaar Act clearly states that it is not a proof of citizenship and anyone who has resided in India for more than 182 continuous days is eligible. It leads to the possibility of exploiting welfare schemes and services in the country meant for native citizens of the country.
Aadhaar act clearly states that it is meant and will be used for delivering social welfare schemes to citizens but Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act also states that Aadhaar data is open to use by public and private bodies as well.
Aadhaar Act gives UIDAI dual, conflicting responsibility. Which means UIDAI is the custodian of data, and regulator of data as well. Which means if data of an individual gets leaked, they can not approach the court, it’s up to UIDAI to take action when a breach is reported. This violates the fundamental right of privacy.
The Aadhaar is surrounded by controversies right from security risks to privacy concerns. Also, the Aadhaar act is framed in a very poor manner that it makes it vulnerable to problems. Before making Aadhaar mandatory, the government needs to address the problems surrounding it and make it ‘more citizen-friendly’, and less ‘problem-friendly’.