- The digital revolution has been a great boon to humankind and is never disputed. The number of people-friendly initiatives that can be achieved by embracing digitization is mind-boggling. No wonder, every government would want to embrace the available technology to ensure the last man standing is not deprived of benefits to which he/she is entitled. The present Indian dispensation has made giant strides in not only embracing the information technology solutions in several of its welfare schemes but has given a tremendous fillip to related investors to set up shop here by offering an incentive to come out with user-friendly solutions.
- As you are well aware, the Aadhaar card, a Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) initiative, has essayed a decisive role in helping the government to reach out to a majority of citizens. Such has been the impact of the Aadhaar card that the same is bandied about as a great supporting document for literally every citizen-related identification process in the country. Now, there exists apprehensions in many quarters about the data security and safety aspects related to individuals, especially with the spiraling cases of cybercrimes. This came to the fore when a UIDAI advisory warning citizens of the misuse of Aadhaar card photocopies and e-copies by unlicensed entities went viral across the country.
- However, a stung Union Government withdrew the note and asked cardholders to exercise normal prudence while sharing Aadhaar numbers. Of course, specific concerns raised by the UIDAI advisory weren’t addressed as officials seemed more worried about the possibility of misinterpretation and stressed that the Aadhaar ecosystem had adequate safety features. It’s widely known that many private agencies demand and collect Aadhaar card photocopies even when they are not licensed to do online authentication. Moreover, digital photo-editing tools can easily manipulate images and text on copies.
PC: DNA Web Team
- However, such fraud can’t evade authentication checks against UIDAI’s central identity data repository. Indeed, it is still a fraud but one that has a solution. For the uninitiated, UIDAI allows offline verification-seeking entities (OVSE), which don’t have to be accredited, to scan the QR code on Aadhaar cards to check the identity and demographic information of a person. Unambiguously, Section 8A (4) of the Aadhaar Act 2016 stipulates that no OVSE shall collect, use, or store Aadhaar numbers or biometric information of any individual. The additional threat also emanates from the collection of biometric information like fingerprints by employers, lenders, and state agencies.
- Moreover, there is a catch here as unlike UIDAI, these smaller entities cannot boast of robust security protocols. The resultant outcome is theft of such poorly stored biometric data is severely undermining Aadhaar-enabled payment systems. Thus, it is incumbent on the part of the Union Government to ensure data safety aspects are foolproof and not compromised at all as gullible citizens may be trapped by cyber crooks to siphon off their hard-earned money. Indeed, digitization and related safety aspects are still a work in progress.