Policy

Rajeev Chandrasekhar for Aadhaar 2.0 secured by blockchain

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 12, 2018

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP

The launch of a virtual id for Aadhaar is, in a sense, an acknowledgement on the part of the UIDAI about its design flaws and breaches into the database.

But this could well mean locking the stable door after that horse has bolted, says Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP, an UIDAI critic.

‘Welcome, but belated’

“For the first time after many years of criticism, it has woken up and found its own slogans and speeches on data security failing it,” he told BusinessLine here.

“It has for the first time responded to critics like me saying that Aadhaar is unsafe and acknowledged its obligation to keep it safe. Hence this virtual id.”

This is welcome, though belated. But this clearly is not enough. One has been crying hoarse saying from 2010 that Aadhaar is faulty design-wise.

UIDAI has now got to create a road map to redesign Aadhaar for the future. It can use technology like blockchain to create a much more secure and encrypted database.

Go for Aadhaar 2.0

“I would call it Aadhaar Version 2.0. Aadhaar has to be re-architectured to become a solidly reliable part of the digital governance ecosystem.”

Chandrasekhar recalled that Aadhaar Act would itself soon come up for review before the Supreme Court. It will decide whether the Act is Constitutional or is consistent with the right to privacy having been declared a fundamental right.

The Finance Minister has said that the government is open to making changes to Aadhaar Act if necessary. Because this Act was passed by Parliament before the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right.

The Act has to be made consistent with privacy being a fundamental right. Which means that UIDAI will have a legal obligation to enrollees with respect to security of their data.

Today, nobody can file a case against it unless it decides to sue itself. This imbalance and asymmetry in the Act needs to be addressed.

Proof of citizenship

Chandrasekhar said that he had been saying from 2010 that there was a need to bring Aadhaar to Parliament and debate about its design, concept, and architecture. But this was not done.

The concept about Aadhaar being merely a proof of identity, and not of citizenship or domicile, is not just right. This too would be challenged in court for sure, he said.

These, he said, were some of the short-cuts made in the Aadhaar design during the UPA period when no law was enacted, no debate held or scrutiny performed.

Some of the petitioners in the Supreme Court say Aadhaar makes for a surveillance state, others say biometrics are unreliable or intrusion into privacy, even that Aadhaar should be scrapped.

“But my position is that Aadhaar should stay. We should address these design flaws. Make sure that privacy is an important issue that is addressed, that your data is never misused.”

The issue of citizenship should be addressed at least in version 2.0. If you can’t identify between a citizen and a non-citizen, then what is the use of Aadhaar?

Published on January 12, 2018

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