The Supreme Court’s decision to indefinitely defer the linking of Aadhaar for availing various services has brought relief for citizens. Although, this is an excellent move by the apex court as of now, that Aadhaar can be mandatory for disbursing subsidies, but not for any other services. The UIDAI said that the requirement of Aadhaar for opening new bank accounts and applying for Tatkal passports under the relevant laws continues which might not be a reason for relief to many with the lack of security of data and its privacy.
Over the last few weeks, mobile phone cellular service providers and banks have been messaging and calling its clients to link one’s Aadhaar to their account or mobile number. As per the order, the deadline is extended indefinitely which makes it clear that one does not have to link it until the Supreme Court passes its verdict in the case. So, for now, you can continue to ignore those messages if you want. Though, even a few months ago, there were some network service providers who had some issues linking Aadhaar with mobile numbers and were asked to make the KYC documentation after the end of February despite March 31 being the last date.
For those who have already linked Aadhaar, might think about this process getting demolished or what’s the point of them linking it? Or later will even Aadhaar card be used for the identification purpose anymore? But as of now, there is no provision or mechanism to delink Aadhaar that is already linked with some service or welfare scheme.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of digitising India has seen many flaws as well as implementation failures which led towards trouble for majority of common people in the country apart from Aadhaar linking and KYC documentation. Even, in case of students for that matter, delay in the University results causing chaos in the further admission procedural and that leads to haywire in one’s life.
Earlier, the top court had observed that the defect of citizens’ biometric details, under the Aadhaar scheme, being collected without any law, could be cured by subsequently bringing in a statute. The Centre came out with the law in 2016 to negate the objection that it was collecting data since 2009 without any authorisation, but the issue which needed consideration was — what would happen if the data collected earlier, had been compromised.
Given the Supreme Court’s recent judgement that the right to privacy is a fundamental right, there is a need for a robust law that protects the data as well, give an assurance of security of privacy to the citizens. Prepaid payment issuers were relying heavily on the Aadhaar interface to accomplish KYC of their customer base. But in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday, consumers may hesitate to share biometric details with these companies.
UIDAI has always argued that Aadhaar authentication refers to no other details of a person apart from only a Yes/No response. The new privacy rights granted by the Supreme Court must be tested against exploitation of customer data.
The central bank had allowed any government approved ID card for KYC verification but the companies have been extensively using the biometric database to validate their consumers because it’s faster and cheaper. However, the response is slow and the pace of the consumers getting their KYC’s verification is yet to pick up.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)