There are a number of Social Welfare schemes that are needed to be provided by the government to its citizens. In order to streamline the welfare delivery mechanism, the government has introduced the aadhar bill 2016 under UIDAI. Initially, aadhar bill 2016 was introduced and passed by the parliament as a money bill, which further specified and strengthened its motive as a system for just targeted delivery of financial subsidies. Aadhar was supposed and considered to be totally voluntary.
With the introduction of aadhar government aims to provide for good governance, efficient transparent and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services, the expenditure for which is incurred from the consolidated fund of India to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers. Also, aadhar is aimed to develop a policy procedure and systems for aadhar holders for updating and authenticating their digital identity. So far aadhar has been really promising and what it has achieved so far cannot be ignored. More than 100 crore people have aadhar, 93% of adults in India have it, and everyday more than 5-7 lakhs of people get enrolled in for an aadhar card. Also, 25.48 crore bank accounts are now linked with aadhar cards, these statistics looks really optimistic for the govt’s next move of DBTs or for laying down an infrastructure of possible universal pay for all citizens in future. But before any of these breakthroughs, there are some fundamental problems in the core of aadhar, which much be addressed before going any further. One of the major issues is the silence of UIDAI, it has never made clear whether aadhar card should be used for address proofs or not. Another major issue is that the aadhar numbers are probably meant to be secret to avoid misuse, but UIDAI has no provisions to stop organizations from putting aadhar information out in public. Aadhar uses biometric authentication, but the use of biometric authentication as a means of identity presents a persistent and immitigable risk of identity theft.
With current systems of aadhar, many people get excluded for various reasons. For example, People who are incapable of furnishing their biometrics, and So, under the present set of rules, they will never be able to get an Aadhar card, consequently, never vote, claim social security, or get a phone connection. There are many laborers, old people and differently abled people who either get their fingerprints wore off or are just not able to register their fingerprints in the first place. Even the iris scanning technology is not as mature and widely accessible as fingerprint scanners. So even by having two biometric formats most of the authentications just rely on fingerprints, which itself has not proven to be reliable enough yet.
Over the years, Govt has also tightened the scheme to prevent proxy sign-ups to aadhar, as a person has to get in a gazetted govt officer as an introducer. Such type of provisions makes it very difficult for the poor and homeless population to get an aadhar card. Ones who are in dire need of govt welfare schemes are the ones who suffer the most. Apart from this, Govt’s aadhar database is totally centralized, which allows the network admin to provide unauthorized access to aadhar details of citizens, these aadhar details can be misused by antisocial elements or can be sold to advertising companies. This public leak of sensitive user data has given rise to ‘aadhar being a threat to privacy’.
The govt’s step to seed aadhar with every other thing, like a person’s train travel, air travel, bank account, mobile number, employment history, health records etc. will enable the people in govt to be able to profile anyone, by pulling in information from various databases using that single identifier. The recent attacks and leakages of aadhar information of citizens, has shown the govt’s inability to secure the citizens with the fundamental right of privacy.
From the govt’s side, it should be ensured that aadhar enrolment centers are accessible to elderly and differently-abled citizens. Staff should be well trained and should be sensitive to differently-abled citizens. Research and development should be conducted to employ latest technologies, like Blockchain based smart contracts, to create a non-penetrable decentralized database for storing the sensitive data of its citizens on encrypted decentralized ledgers.