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Issue Debate #8: Adhaar - a breach of right to privacy or an antidote to implementation failure?

edited September 2015 in Issue Debates
Issue Debates Archives

Critically analyse the role of Adhaar as a means to plug leakages in Welfare Schemes. Elaborate on the concerns that come with its implementation.

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  • With the growing technological developments,emerging administrative challenges and increasing penetration of banking sector,internet and mobile telephony, the emphasis on aadhar based delivery mechanisms is increasing.

    It is based on collection of biometric information of an individual which would be used to provide various services,maintaining security,performing governance functions and crime related surveillance.By aadhar cards,it would be easy to identify the households and linking them to the banking sector.

    On one hand it would provide various benefits including direct cash transfers,reducing the role of middlemen and hence reducing corruption,minimize the wastages as cash benefits would be provided instead of material benefits,targeted delivery to the bank accounts of beneficiaries,speedy process and thus facilitating reforms ultimately.The mobile telephony would also enable the beneficiaries to get all the information through mobile.In this manner the aadhar scheme would facilitate an all inclusive growth.

    But on the other hand,the growing incidences of cyber theft have made the aadhar card holders vulnerable to theft and misuse of their personal data.Their privacy could be at risk and right to privacy is an integral part of right to life and personal liberty as stated by s.c in various rulings.Recently s.c has declared that aadhar card is not mandatory,thus it would be an individual's choice whether to have aadhar card or not.

    Instead of arguing that the aadhar card does not violate an individual's right to privacy,the government must work in the area of securing the data of individuals by deploying required systems.The authority responsible for the collection,management and use of the data must be held accountable for the same.

    In its zeal to increase efficiency of government schemes through electronic modes and make targeting better,the government must not forget it's responsibility to ensure the security of personal data of individuals in the perils of the cyber era.
    " The more you sweat in peace , the less you bleed in war."
  • Aadhar card scheme was implemented by the government through an executive resolution. It is meant to identify the correct beneficiaries for welfare schemes and at the same time have a unique identity of people in terms of finger print and retina scan. The drive will have many spillover effects:

    1.Less corruption and correct identification of beneficiaries.
    2.Also help in making criminal registers through biometric data.
    3.Identify missing people.
    4.Better governance in rural areas where administration largely misleads people.

    However, recently there have been petitions in SC about how it breaches privacy and how it can be misused. Certain points are to be noted regarding this :

    1. Right to privacy is a fundamental right derived from article 21 and a person can't be deprived of Article 21 except by procedure established by law. Since, biometric data is collection of private data, there is a need to legislate in place of the executive resolution.
    2. Aadhar data collection is largely unorganised and also been done by private entities. This can lead to its misuse. Hence, a need for greater regulation arises.
    3. As long as it doesn't interfere with person's private affairs, its all right.

    In the light of the above arguments there is a need to have legislation for it which delineates rules for data storage, data collection and data protection. It also needs to determine as who will have access to it and to what end it can be used and set up regulatory mechanism for its access.

    On a broader plane. Privacy Bill needs to be revisited to clearly give certain basic protection to privacy of individuals and in what way and for what reasons can the state take it away.
  • Why Adhaar is important
    --Preventing leakage
    --Direct transfer of subsidy and its associated efficiency as well as efficacy
    --Hassle free transaction and no delay in payments
    --Valid, Biometrically verified document that is being used for identification such as KYC thereby removing ghost beneficiary
    Whats the concern
    --Enormous of data controlled by single authority and hence chances of accidental or intentional abuse
    --No guarantee of privacy of data
    --The scheme and implementing authority are both result of executive order only: not tested by floor of house
    --Migrant labours and other person have worn out finger prints leading to non identification
    --SC declaring Aadhar not mandatory
    Intended benefits that Aadhar would bring compels for removing all drawbacks and effective implemntation
  • In addition to the above, AADHAR forms an essential link for the implementation of various other government projects like Jan Dhan Yojana, Digital India, direct cash transfers, rationalisation of subsidies etc.
    However, for usage of AADHAR for these schemes it is important to simultaneously bring in financial and digital literacy and expansion of bank branches. The progress on these fronts have been slow.
    The government has not put in place an effective data security system. If all these schemes get connected to AADHAR not only will there be a concern of identity theft but theft of financial details and medical or educational records (Digital India). So AADHAR needs an immediate feasibility study to conform to the law of the land.
  • In addition to above, increasing transparency and accountability in govt. welfare schemes payment, better targeting of social welfare schemes.
    concerns: high chance of misuse of personal information like caste, religions, cyber theft of data, sharing of information with private agents and on payment basis is high threat.
  • With rise in the development of technology and penetration of the same increasing, their is a high pitch for the implementation of the aadhar scheme for identity, delivery mechanisms enhancement and infringement of the leakages but the ruling of the honorable SC that Aadhar is nit mandatory and is a matter of choice for the citizens has taken the initiative into a doldrums state.So before jumping onto conclusions lets observe some facts about it.
    Aadhar unique identification mechanism with the help of biometrics. Possible merits & demerits:
    1)it would ensure better delivery mechanisms (FAST, RELAIBLE, stop leakages that are huge amount that the exchequer has to pay)by linking it to DBTs, PDS, and other subsidies provided by the govt. As seen from the pahal it has tightened leakages but can we forget that still around 60% of our population is rural and would they be able to deal with the tech. And whether all of them are still financially included despite the huge success of the JDY.
    2) JAM trinity could prove to be a game changer but still it would depend on the implementing agencies for its efficacy
    3) biometric registration of all the citizens would enhance the efficacy of the police & various other security agencies in fighting with crime,terrorism,etc but as the honorable SC has stated it can lead to the possible violation of the right to privacy as enshrined in umbrella provision art 21 of our constitution.

    To conclude i suggest we should go with ruling of the SC and implement aadhar in phased manner from choice based decision to being mandatory and in the meantime enhancing & strengthening the existing mechanisms.

    Plz review guys and sorry for any typo errors if any as i am travelling in a bus
  • Hi, i am Pranali Sharma can anyone suggest me how can i update mobile number in aadhar.
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