July 01 will see the Narendra Modi government taking a significant step towards digitising governance across the nation. DigiLocker is the new online locker service being put into action
Kartikeya Saigal | June 26, 2015
The new online repository for citizens holding Aadhaar cards seeks to “empower residents by providing them with Digital Locker on the cloud”. This online storage facility would facilitate over 81.78 crore citizens across the nation. The site’s resources states that document issuers such as the CBSE and the Income Tax Department could issue certificates to the citizens in electronic format via the Digital Locker.
It is a potentially revolutionary step towards a greater, more efficient system of personal records on a national scale put forth by the department of electronics and information technology (DeitY), under the ministry of communications and IT.
The first thought that struck me upon further reading was that of the possibility of security and privacy violations. Therefore I headed over to DeitY’s website to take familiarise myself with the working of this fast paced government sector to better understand the proposition.
The site itself is easy to manoeuvre and shows the dedication taken by the government to promote Digital India. Links to pages dedicated to public grievances, public opinions and updates are prominent. User-friendly, the site allowed me to understand the general outlook. A division for cyber laws and security, subdivision cyber security R and D shows an overview of ongoing projects, thrust areas, funding and a general overview. The number of ongoing projects is very impressive and the thrust areas show an encompassing approach. They seem to know what they’re doing.
Encouraged, I moved on to the website of the online storage itself. It’s in Beta form and doesn’t shrug from the fact that there are improvements to be made. With such a large number of potential users the manual is easy to understand – login with the Aadhaar card, upload documents, view documents issued by departments and digitally signed documents and share them. There is also a button for further resources, providing a detailed understanding of the proposed system.
Within the resources there is a section for technical specifications. I must first mention that there is a significant amount of information detailing the systems architecture and channels of data. Down the list, comes the subheading “Security and Privacy Aspects”. It is here that my concerns point. Security matters are addressed one by one, along with their implemented and proposed solutions but as for privacy the words “It is ONLY the privacy aspect of the document that needs to be addressed,” appears on the page. Still there is time, and perhaps there are workable measures for privacy to be introduced on its launch on July 01.
In all, the DigiLocker appears to be a potential, substantial contributor to the efforts to digitize India. Still in beta form, the system is certain to require further changes, additions and amendments. However, in the future it promises to be step towards a faster, more efficient and eco-friendly nation.
(Saigal is an intern with Governance Now)
Joseph A Cannataci is the UN’s first and current special rapporteur for the right to privacy appointed by the Human Rights Council (HRC) in July 2015. His appointment came with growing global concerns about threats to privacy in the digital age where governments and big corporations collect mass da
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