Director General of the National Directorate of Health and senior member of the founding team Aadhaar R.S. Sharma on Wednesday criticized some of the restrictions imposed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on the use of a unique identifier over privacy concerns.
Sharma, who was the first CEO of UIDAI, said the data warehouse concept was flawed, negatively impacting Aadhaar’s purpose.
“The Aadhaar law states that Aadhaar information must be kept in a safe place. The Aadhaar number is not a person. This (data store) is like putting all the numbers on banknotes in some kind of secure vault, saying those numbers won’t be released. This is the wrong way. Once you start from a false foundation, everything else becomes false. You came up with the Aadhaar data warehouse, ”Sharma said at a seminar hosted by UIDAI.
UIDAI recently introduced the concept of the Aadhaar Data Warehouse, which is a centralized repository for all Aadhaar numbers collected by authorized agencies.
The purpose of the Aadhaar Data Warehouse, as UIDAI explains, is to reduce the fingerprint of Aadhaar numbers in an organization’s systems and environment, hence reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
Sharma said that UIDAI then came up with the concept that Aadhaar should not be published, which is wrong.
“I mean this is my Aadhaar. The number of an individual does not belong to the state. I can post this. How do I say that if I publish my Aadhaar number, you will go to jail. This is another misconception that has started to occur, ”he said.
“In the name of confidentiality, you shouldn’t kill a target. Confidentiality should not compromise functionality. Unfortunately, we did just that. Confidentiality can be enforced without compromising full functionality, ”he said.
Sharma said the Supreme Court ruling set reasonable expectations about confidentiality, and the ruling was followed by an amendment that allows Aadhaar to be voluntarily used to verify one’s identity.
“Let’s not be intimidated by some of the people who talk about privacy. Privacy is a fundamental right, but in the name of privacy, you shouldn’t kill a target. This is the principle of confidentiality by design. We have carefully incorporated this principle into the design of Aadhaar, ”Sharma said.
Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said that he designed a Rupay debit card with Aadhaar amplification, but had to abandon the project due to a rule that an Aadhaar number cannot be displayed publicly.
He said people need to be given voluntary choices to consolidate multiple identities.
“Aadhaar is an incentive for our economy. India’s success in making financial services accessible and managing the masses determines how much Aadhaar it contains, ”said the CEO of Paytm.
He said the Aadhar ID should be linked to other datasets like CIBIL score, health status, etc.
“Combining Aadhaar data with some other data could be (made) available to the system … The obligation to authenticate Aadhaar should be extended to every corner of the country, and (it) must be combined with various other data points, including health … so I can verify everything else is also with Aadhaar, ”Sharma said.
He called for the development of a sandbox for innovation around Aadhaar.
Abhishek Singh, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National E-Governance Unit, also agreed with Sharma’s view that there should be no restrictions on Aadhaar number sharing.
“The disclosure of the Aadhaar number does not entail any risks. Its use can be of great benefit. It is up to us whether we choose to create value to continue to fear and not realize the true potential of the digital infrastructure we have created, ”Singh said.
Director and CEO of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) Sujay Boz said that individuals should be allowed to share their data under certain rules, and the government should develop rules for the exchange of data.