National Health Authority CEO and senior member of founding team of Aadhaar R S Sharma on Wednesday criticised some of the restrictions imposed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) over use of the unique ID due to apprehensions around privacy.
Sharma, who was the first Director-General of the UIDAI, said that the concept of data vault is fallacious which is adversely impacting the purpose of Aadhaar.
“Aadhaar Act says Aadhaar information should be safely kept. Aadhaar number is not an identity. It (data vault) is like putting all the numbers on the currency notes into some safe vault saying that these numbers will not be disclosed. This is a fallacious way. Once you start with a fallacious foundation then everything else becomes fallacious. You came up with the Aadhaar data vault,” Sharma said while speaking at a workshop organised by the UIDAI.
The UIDAI has recently introduced a concept of the Aadhaar data vault which is a centralised storage for all the Aadhaar numbers collected by authorised agencies.
The objective of Aadhaar data vault, as explained by the UIDAI, is to reduce the footprint of Aadhaar numbers within the systems and environment of the organisation hence reduce the risk of unauthorised access.
Sharma said that then the UIDAI has come up with concept that Aadhaar shall not be published which is fallacious.
“I mean it’s my Aadhaar. Individual’s number does not belong to the government. I can publish it. How can somebody tell me that if I publish my Aadhaar number you will be jailed. This is another fallacy which has started happening,” he said.
“In the name of privacy you should not kill the purpose. Privacy should not compromise functionality. We have unfortunately done it that way. Privacy can be exercised without compromising on full functionality,” he said.
Sharma said that the Supreme Court judgement has defined reasonable expectations of privacy and the judgement was followed by an amendment which allows voluntary use of Aadhaar to prove their identity.
“Let’s not be cowed down by some fellows who are talking about privacy. Privacy is a fundamental right but in the name of privacy you should not really kill the purpose. There is a principle of privacy by design. We have incorporated that principle in design of Aadhaar meticulously,” Sharma said.
Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said that he had developed an Aadhaar amplified Rupay debit card but had to drop the project because of the rule that Aadhaar number cannot be displayed in public.
He said that people should be given voluntary choice to consolidate multiple identity.
“Aadhaar is a booster shot for our economy. India’s success of financial inclusion, delivering governance to the masses, has an obligation how much Aadhaar is in it,” the Paytm CEO said.
He said that Aadhar ID should be bundled with other sets of data like CIBIL score, health etc.
“Bundling of Aadhaar data with some other data can be (made) available for system… Obligation to authenticate Aadhaar should be propagated to every nook and corner of the country, and (it) should be bundled with various other data points including health… so that I can verify anything else also with Aadhaar,” Sharma said.
He called for developing sandbox for innovation around Aadhaar.
National e-Governance Division President and CEO Abhishek Singh also agreed to Sharma’s viewpoint that there should be no restriction imposed on sharing of Aadhaar number.
“Disclosing Aadhaar number does not result in any risk. Using it can result in lot of value. It is up to us wether we choose creating value to keep on being fearful and not realising the true potential of digital infrastructure that we have created,” Singh said.
National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) MD and CEO Sujay Bose said that individuals should be allowed share their data under some rules and government should develop rules for sharing data.