How subsidies, pinning down on money launderers
How Aadhar breaches the Right to privacyAadhar has been perceived by many to be the milestone in the vision of a digitized India.We have all heard the Government preaching about the benefits of Aadhar in the long run, about how it is the one form of identity that is indubitable and its use in utilizing government schemes and services leading to transparency in bureaucracy for the benefit of the citizens.But the operation of the Aadhar clash with the recent ruling of the Supreme court proclaiming that all Indians enjoy a fundamental right to privacy. This has made the Aadhar a key focus for debate in recent times. Also, the report published by the Chandigarh Tribune recently stating that the Aadhar has been compromised, and has always been so for a long period, has led many to ponder on the legitimacy of the Aadhar. Views may be ambiguous, but the Aadhar’s centralized and interlinked database, unequivocally, pose a threat to our right to privacy.We are all aware of the government’s order to link our bank accounts with our Aadhar number. Many benefits have been listed like- direct transfer of government subsidies, pinning down on money launderers and the Aadhar enabled payment system(AEPS) that will essentially enable us to carry out banking transactions by only using our fingerprints. But many counter that biometrics should be shared voluntarily and should not be enforced. More importantly, fingerprint scanners are not as secure as you think. They can be reproduced. With some research and related technology, they can be replicated and can be hacked. For instance, there have been many cases of replicating fingerprints on a putty-like material to trick biometric scanners. If our fingerprint is hacked, it is not like we can go ahead and get a new finger.Another concern is its vulnerability to identity fraud. This is one type of crime that is recurring in recent times. People often synonymize the Aadhar with the Social Security number in the US. But the Social Security number is just a number assigned to an individual and is not used as a proof of identity. The Aadhar number is linked to our biometric information, phone numbers, employment details, bank account, credit/debit card details,, health, property and even family lineage. All these are stored in a centralized database. What happens if this database is hacked? Our identity can be utilized to commit cyber crimes of varying degrees, while we lay totally oblivious to it. Also by virtue of being linked to our bank accounts, getting robbed poses a constant threat.The Aadhar can also be used as a surveillance and profiling tool. Since Aadhar is linked to our phones, our location can be traced using the GPS and all our contacts would be accessible. Our bank transactions and purchases can also be tracked. It can even tell which underwear you’re wearing if you’ve purchased it using your credit card. Is the government even allowed to have so much power over its citizens? Are we slowly rooting out towards a totalitarian regime?The most important concern Aadhar poses is its infringement on personal integrity. Aadhar has the power to draw a profile of my life by garnering information from different sources using a set of numbers. My whole life would be reduced to the whim of a number. If this number is nullified by the authorities, we’ll just cease to exist in one instant. None of our other proofs of identity would remain valid, our bank accounts, property, assets would all be frozen, citizenship to the country would be lost. We would be alive but without any proof of existence. It is rather scary thought. This is the scale of power that the Aadhar has.Many argue that Aadhar is in need in a country like India where there is a huge disparity between the rich and the poor, with rampant corruption and chaotic bureaucracy. The Aadhar project is but a shortcut solution to development. The more tangible approach would be to invest in educating the masses, personal development, widespread awareness programs, eradicating social evil and superstitions instead of investing a ton in defence and space programs. But history has time and time again, proven that to compromise the liberty of the people only leads to turmoil. Let us all learn to put humanity first.