Updated: April 2, 2017 6:08:39 am
Since September 29, 2010, when Ranjana Sonawne, a 40-something daily wager from Tembhli village in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district, became the first Indian to get a 12-digit identity, India’s Aadhaar story has been one of concerns over how the programme impinges on the privacy of people and now, confusion after the Supreme Court’s observation that Aadhaar can be “pressed” for all “non-benefit” plans where questions of entitlements do not occur.
Meanwhile, the numbers of those enrolling for Aadhaar climb steadily, with a few ready pointers: 88.2% of India’s population of 1.27 billion (projected for 2015) now have their biometric details in the Aadhaar database; in the above-18 category, more men (37.52%) than women (35.43%) have enrolled under the programme; and Delhi, Haryana, Telangana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh have over 100 per cent Aadhaar coverage.
Until February 28 this year, the total expenditure incurred for the UID scheme since its inception has been pegged at around Rs 8,537.92 crore. The government also plans to link 537 entitlement schemes with Aadhaar and believes that this will not only improve the delivery system but also do away with middlemen.
The UIDAI has always spoken of its stringent de-duplication system, with its officials saying a few thousand duplicate Aadhaars in a database of 1.2 billion is negligible. “We are taking action against vendors who violated the terms and are misusing Aadhaar data,” said an UIDAI official on condition of anonymity, adding that the system was getting “robust” to tackle such cases on its own.
Besides duplication, the chances of the 12-digit identification number being stored and misused by private entities have raised security concerns.
The government, however, says the biometric unique identification number is shared with private entities under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, only with the consent of the Aadhaar holder and that the data is shared in encrypted form on secure platforms.
“Only authorised agencies have access to the UIDAI database — the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) — with safeguards that they can only access the part of the data which they are authorised to do. Agencies authorised to use the authentication or e-KYC services of UIDAI transmit the authentication requests using secure applications through encrypted channels to the CIDR. The CIDR, in turn, returns a response either in the form of a “Yes” or “No” or a digitally signed and encrypted e-KYC comprising the demographic data (photograph, name, gender, address etc.),” said the UIDAI official.
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