Aadhaar in the time of leaks

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on March 11, 2018 Published on March 11, 2018

How can we link without foolproof privacy measures in place?

To link the Aadhaar card with different services, or not? That seems to be the question in the minds of many citizens as scam after scam tumbles out into public domain raising in the process questions on the operations of banks as well.

The March 31 deadline is creeping upon us to link bank accounts, telephones, voter id, et al to Aadhaar. But with the Supreme Court set to hear arguments on the issue this week, the decision is going down to the wire.

The dilemma for a tax-paying, law-abiding citizen stems from seeing people game the system and get away with it. This, despite ordinary folks being put through rigorous Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures.

The ₹12,000-crore Nirav Modi scam is just the latest incident to illustrate that our banks are not quite the impregnable fortresses they are made out to be. Our online systems too have not been secure as banks have had to deal with debit card data of customers being “compromised”. It is into this leaky system that citizens are being asked to put in their life's savings, information, thumbprint, iris and all.

A whiff of the future was evident about eight years ago when the bureau that rated your creditworthiness (depending on how clean your banking habits were) entered into a pact with a telecom company. Thus the telecom company could manipulate the customer with schemes they claimed were in the customer’s interest.

The linking of personal information through a system like Aadhaar pushes the customer into a corner in an already uneven playing field. A leak of the customer’s medicine buying pattern could tomorrow become the reason to withhold an insurance policy, without the customer’s knowledge.

Aadhaar was conceptualised to plug the leak in subsidies given to those who needed it. It should be restricted to that.

PT Jyothi Datta Deputy Editor

Published on March 11, 2018
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