AADHAAR is the unique identity of an Indian citizen. Beyond the 12
digits which separate us from other individuals, most of us perhaps
know very little about the intricacies of its use and functions.
AADHAAR has been under recent scrutiny because of the attempt to link
our unique identities to PAN and other services. These linkages and
the primary importance given to AADHAAR over other forms of
identification have been criticised as being Draconian in nature.
Still others applaud the direction the whole scheme is taking.
Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of
India (UIDAI) brought to attention two pieces of information in a
recent interview that can shed new light on the issue.
First, he busted the myth that the data collected for the purpose of
AADHAAR identification is located in any one centralised location. The
linkages created, say with our phone numbers or bank accounts, are not
guided to a central server. This means that no hacker can break into
this database and steal all of one’s important information. The
authorities concerned collect and use this information in accordance
with their publicly stipulated policies.
Second, he brought to notice a facility that is offered by the UIDAI
to safeguard one’s biometric data. He said that one can “lock” one’s
biometric data and prevent its use via an SMS and OTP. This means that
one’s data will not be accessible by anyone, including oneself, until
an “unlock” is intimated by the individual. He also announced plans to
launch an AADHAAR mobile application that will allow one to lock their
biometric information at the click of a button. This facility may not
be as beneficial as one would like as it is not the most accessible
option for those who don’t have access to a smart phone.
While these safeguards are in place and seem to be well thought out,
Dr Pandey admitted that the system is not completely tamper-proof,
like any other established system. He and his team will make dynamic
efforts to anicipate threats and minimise them.