Recently, the central government made it mandatory for children to carry aadhaar card if they want to avail the mid-day meals at school. Apart from this, the central government has issued a series of 14 similar notifications for 11 schemes, including access to primary and secondary education.
This is a clear violation of Supreme court directive of October 2015 which stated that Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory for any government scheme and it can only be used as voluntary identification for five specific government programmes: public distribution scheme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, National Social Assistance Programme, Jan Dhan Yojana and for LPG subsidies.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has clarified that the information on individuals enrolled by it is safe and secure.
This clarification comes in the wake of recent reports of a breach in the security of Aadhaar data, which were misused for creating parallel databases.
According to the ministry, the UIDAI uses one of the world’s most advanced encryption technologies in transmission and storage of data. It also stated that UIDAI is continuously updating its security framework. However, this new rule can be a major cause of concern for people who advocate privacy and believe that any data breach can seriously derail the government’s digital agenda.
Indian data protection laws are inadequate and only address some of the security, privacy, and other issues. Also, in terms of cybersecurity, India is way behind compared to other countries and this ignorance is evident in the Indian enterprises and financial institutions as well.
India doesn’t have a privacy and data protection law and in 2015 the Government of India held that “citizens do not have a right to privacy under the Constitution”.
Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – of which India is one of the signatories – explicitly states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
Other countries in the world have already enacted privacy laws to safeguard their citizens. France began ensuring data security from 1978, while Canada passed the historic Personal Information Protection & Electronic Documents Act in 2000. Mexico has serious punishments for privacy violators and New Zealand has a Privacy Commissioner.
At a time when India is pushing for a cashless economy, it is imperative to have in place an effective regime for the protection of personal information.