Will UID compromise privacy of citizens?

samirsachdeva

Samir Sachdeva | September 30, 2010



The civil society has flagged the unique identity project citing concerns of privacy violations. They have, infact, launched a campaign against it - 'No UID'. The unhappy with UID include include eminent people like Justice V R Krishna Iyer, Aruna Roy, Justice A P Shah and others.

The activists say that the project will lead to multiple concerns on civil liberties and the state may misuse the information. The key concern is that the UID numbers may be used to develop NatGrid, a centralized database for intelligence gathering and profiling of people.

They also claim that linking UID to census, national population register (NPR), key benefit schemes like PDS and NREGA will make it mandatory for citizens to get the number even while the Act claims that applying for the number is voluntary. The draft national identification authority bill also highlights that the identity information as collected can be disclosed in interest of national security.  

The activists point out that linking of UID number in various other key e-governance projects like CCTNS (e-police), e-courts, passport, income tax etc will lead to data consolidation leading to risks of profiling and invasion of privacy by the state.

The UID authority, on its part, claims that UIDAI information in no way will be accessible to public and private organizations. The authority will provide only a “yes” or “no” for any authentication related access. It claims that adequate security related steps have been taken to protect the database and that the NIA bill has provisions for stringent penalty in case of leakage / misuse of data. Experts supporting the UID, claim that the authority is collecting only limited information from individuals and that in any case is not sensitive information which may infringe the privacy of individuals.

While this may allay some explicit concerns, the civil society posers do sieve implicit consequences of having a UID database. So, is the UID  an invasion of privacy?

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