ith over 1.2 billion residents already enrolled for Aadhaar- a unique 12-digit number, known to be world's largest biometric database, backed by fingerprints, iris scans and certain demographic details, Aadhaar is demanded as an identity proof of residents by various government and non-government entities.
The Aadhaar based Unique Identification numbers (UID) were set up in India with an objective to provide a unique identification number to all residents of India that will be:
- Robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities
- Can be verified and authenticated in an easy, cost-effective way
As the government made it mandatory to link mobile numbers along with KYC details before 31 March 2018 with Aadhaar, it has been reported that over 80 per cent of bank accounts and 60 per cent of mobile connections have been linked with national biometric identifier Aadhaar. To weed out the unaccounted wealth, it has also made mandatory to link income-tax permanent account number or PAN with that of Aadhaar.
According to a Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) official, of the 109.9 crore banks accounts, almost 87 crore have been seeded with Aadhaar. Of this, 58 crore have already been verified while in case of the rest the authentication process is underway the documents that have been submitted to the banks. This move claims that all the financial losses caused to banks and genuine account holders through identity frauds will be curbed.
By March 31, all mobile SIM cards shall also to be linked to Aadhaar to verify the identity of mobile phone users. Of 142.9 crore active mobile connections, 85.7 crore have already been linked with Aadhaar.
While a five-judge Constitution bench is hearing a bunch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar programme, as things stand today, PAN, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, mutual funds, pension plans and social welfare benefits will have to be linked to Aadhaar by March 31.
Linking Aadhaar to all government and private services gives the government access to large amount of data which it can use in the name of ‘national security’. The government refused to define the scope of “national security”, which means it has all the power to access anyone’s data without any judicial oversight.
Having everything linked to a single ID makes it vulnerable to misuse as privacy will be under threat. While considering the rural population, Aadhaar linkage remains both difficult and tricky. In Aadhaar act, there are no provisions for the protection of one's information. Apart from that, data stored is vulnerable to cyber theft. So safeguarding all the private data of millions must be the priority of the government. Otherwise, the consequences will be fractious.