Lots of Sudhaar Needed in AadhaarIt is criminal to commit a crime and then destroy evidence, including making an attempt to destroy the evidence. Hence, if one commits a murder and then hides, or tries to hide, the murder weapon, one compounds the crime. By registering a FIR against Rachna Khaira, the reporter of The Tribune newspaper, who broke the news of Aadhaar data being sold for just Rs 500, the government is attempting to compound the crime committed by UIDAI in exposing citizens private data to multiple unauthorized agencies. In classic mafia tradition, the government is shooting the messenger for bringing the bad news. Also, it is a flagrant attempt to browbeat the media. How is a reporter to be held guilty if she has exposed a racket that accesses and sells the private data of the citizens from the Aadhaar database? It is the UIDAI that should be held guilty. The reporter, in fact, should be rewarded for her outstanding work.
By Sunil Garodia
Any responsible and caring government would listen to the grievances of the citizens and try to redress them, even if it means going back to the drawing board for applying its pet scheme. But this government, tutored in a devious manner by the UIDAI, is trying to bulldoze its way out of the predicament it finds itself in over the safety of, and occasional leakage of, Aadhaar data. There is no doubt that linking Aadhaar with various government schemes will stop huge leakage of funds and eliminate crony capitalism and linking it with certain investments and payments will ensure that people do not make the same with unaccounted money. It will go a long way in bringing transparency in government spending and eliminating shady transactions. But whatever benefits the linking brings, it certainly cannot be at the cost of compromising the private data of the citizens.
The UIDAI has been tasked with gathering the data and developing and applying the software that would enable linking of Aadhaar with whatever the government has in mind. Obviously, this also means that the UIDAI will put in place robust systems that would prevent unauthorized persons from accessing this data. But it has been proven multiple times that the security systems of UIDAI are not robust enough to prevent unauthorized access. Instead of taking the UIDAI to task, the government picks on those who expose its shortcomings. Of course, nothing better can be expected from a government that had told the Supreme Court that it does not consider privacy to be a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Supreme Court has clearly stated that the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution. Of course, this right is not absolute but one thing is certain no government can force the people to give their personal information and biometrics and then be lax enough to let unauthorized persons access the data for profit or otherwise. The UIDAI claims that the biometrics have not be compromised (should we be grateful for small mercies?) as if unauthorized access to name, address, telephone number, date of birth etc does not matter at all. As the case challenging the Constitutional validity of Aadhaar is being heard in the apex court, UIDAI will have to ensure that its database conforms to the parameters of privacy. These leakages prove that UIDAI has compromised privacy. Will the court now scrap Aadhaar?