Security will be a big concern for Aadhaar, Former Chairman of the Unique Identity Development Authority of India Nandan Nilekani said on Tuesday. Though the system has not been breached yet, it is cause for concern, he said at a lecture in New Delhi.
“If we are going to be an increasingly digital world, we will have to make sure all our systems are secure,” he said, according to The Economic Times. He was responding to questions on the recent arrest of an IIT-Kharagpur graduate for hacking and illegally accessing Aadhaar data.
Nilekani added that the government must create a data protection policy. “India needs to take a strategic view on data colonisation, privacy and data dominance and how data is used for public good,” the Infosys co-founder said.
Right to privacy
This comes at a time when the Supreme Court is hearing petitions to decide if privacy is a fundamental right in the light of Aadhaar being made mandatory for a host of welfare schemes. A nine-judge bench and a number of lawyers had held a long debate on the limits of the right to privacy.
The Supreme Court had on August 2 reserved a verdict on whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right. The Centre, however, told the apex court on July 27 that it cannot be a fundamental right as it has many facets.
The government on August 1 formed an expert committee to deliberate on data protection laws, which will also come up with a draft data protection Bill. The committee will have the mandate to identify key data protection issues in India and recommend methods of addressing them.
The challenges to Aadhaar include concerns by citizens about storing and sharing their biometric information with the UIDAI. Recently, about 210 government websites were found to be leaking user data along with their Aadhaar numbers.
The agency that manages the biometrics for Aadhaar cards, though, has told the Supreme Court that it was “technically impossible” to use the data to spy on people who have enrolled in the unique identification programme.