Bengaluru: When the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) launched Aadhaar cards, it had assured the people that the data collected from the citizens will not be utilised for any commercial purpose. The Union government too had assured the card holders that the database will be used only for public utilities, including the Direct Subsidy Transfer for the beneficiaries etc. But contrary to this, now even a few private multinational companies (MNCs) have started using the data for e-Know Your Customer (E-KYC) verification, which is popularly called as e-verification.
Thousands of city customers said that over the last few weeks, several companies, including telecom operators, have made Aadhaar compulsory for customer authentication. “I have attached all my bank details to my Aadhaar, besides properties registered. On Sunday when I wanted to purchase a SIM car, the agency man asked me to give my Aadhaar card number for e-verification. Soon after, I received an email from UIDAI saying that my Aadhaar number XXXX XXXXXXXX was used successfully to carry out authentication using ‘fingerprint’,” he said.
“The central government has spent thousands of crores of rupees to create the Aadhaar database. At the time of enrolment, all the information, including the thumb impression and iris details, are collected. Now who is responsible if anyone misuses the data for commercial purpose,” he asked. “Before authentication, they ask us to sign a two-page terms and conditions which allows them to get access to our Aadhaar data. But generally, no one will have patience or time to read these terms and conditions,” he said.
Even UIDAI officials agreed that use of Aadhaar database by start-ups and private firms is highly unethical. “Several start-ups, MNCs and telecom operators are using the Aadhaar database in the city for various purposes. There is no clarity on who will be responsible if any one misuses the data,” said an officer, who wished to remain anonymous.
Need a public debate: UIDAI official
An officer from UIDAI confirmed that a few private corporations are using Aadhaar database for e-verification, only after getting approval from the card-holder. “It is a policy issue. Aadhaar data is crucial to strengthen the digital economy and activities. If people raise the issue, definitely the Centre may reconsider various approvals. But there is a need for a public debate,” he said.