Critically discuss the various arguments on the basis of which the Aadhaar project has been challenged for violating the right to privacy. To what extent do you agree with these views? Discuss.
Aadhaar is the largest biometric ID system in the world. The 12-digit unique ID number can be obtained by residents or passport holders of India, based on their biometric and demographic data. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which is a statutory authority, is responsible for the collection of data. Presently, the Aadhaar card is linked with several public services like PDS, money withdrawal, etc. But the conflict regarding privacy issues is still there since the time of its introduction. The Aadhaar project was challenged on grounds of violating the right to privacy.
- The Aadhaar id has been linked to some public subsidy and unemployment benefit schemes like the domestic LPG scheme and MGNREGA to bring more transparency in the system.
- Aadhaar-enabled biometric attendance systems have been launched in various institutes to check the negligence of the government employees.
- Several other central government agencies like the National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of External Affairs, Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation of India, and programs like the National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme started using Aadhaar as a tool.
- States like Telangana, Maharashtra are using the Aadhaar project to deliver transparent governance.
Aadhaar and Right To Privacy
Aadhaar card could be used as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India. Its main objective is to provide social security benefits by plugging the leakages, thus, ensuring transparency and good governance. But the scheme has raised various concerns.
- The collection of biometric data i.e. retina scan, fingerprints have been the responsibility of private agencies, thus, raising concerns of its misuse.
- The scheme has been launched without any backing of the law and therefore there is no guarantee that data will not be used for any other purpose. For example by law enforcement agencies for snooping on citizens etc. Therefore, breach of the right to privacy has become a central issue.
The issue of Aadhaar and privacy has to be dealt with the right perspective. Aadhaar is a well thought out scheme that has the potential to bring immense benefits to the people. However, the government should have legislated a proper law that will ensure the privacy of data and will take stringent actions in case of any misuse. The legislation should also include the purpose for which the data could be used. It will ensure a balanced ineffective delivery of government services and protection of the right to privacy of the citizens.