India

5 Ways Through Which Aadhaar Violates Your Privacy

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If you’re an Indian then the Aadhaar Card is pretty much necessary for everything you do – from opening a bank account to getting a gas connection. The scheme may be a few years old but it still has some serious loopholes in it – your safety and security being the greatest one. Here is why the Aadhaar Card should make you concerned:

1. It allows for the mass profiling of individuals
The Aadhaar database containing your UID number, biometric data and personal info is linked to multiple databases (from bank accounts to insurance schemes) making it easy to profile any individual, from his employment and earnings to his travel & recreation preferences. If misused, this “map of maps” could be a tool of mass surveillance by the Government.

2. It may lead to identity fraud
There have been instances in which the enrolment operator (the guy who initially took your biometric data) uploaded Person A’s information to Person B’s profile. That’s only the start of the identity-related problems. In the case of a data leak, all your personal and biometric data could be in the hands of mischievous parties opening up cases for even more severe forms of identity theft.

3. It ropes in private contractors to monitor your data
The UIDAI (Unique Identity Authority of India) has roped in a bunch of private sub-contractors (even international ones!) to help collect the data of our huge population. Naturally this makes the scheme susceptible to data leakages. What’s worse is that if there is ever such a case of a security breach, the individual whose data has been leaked in clueless about it, and only the UIDAI can initiate a complaint with the police.

4. It doesn’t allow you to opt out of the scheme even if you want to
This is pretty self-explanatory. Once you’ve signed up for the Aadhaar card, there is no way to back out. Your data belongs to the Government and there’s no way to erase it.

5. It is dangerously prone to foreign hacks
If the Aadhaar database is ever hacked – and chances are it is fairly easy to crack open – it allows foreign entities to pretty much control the entire population of India. How could they do that? Hacking into the database would make it easy to direct the quantum and flow of subsidies, resources like food grains and electricity, any kind of entitlements.

If this isn’t reason to be worried, we don’t know what is.

So far the Government of India seems to have weighed the benefits of the Aadhaar Scheme as more important that the downsides – and they have good reason to. The Aadhaar Scheme will save India tons of money, increase the efficiency of our entitlements programs and help people that have been living in poverty for generations.

But in order to make the Aadhar Scheme truly work, we need to address these security and technical issues first.

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