A countless number of retail and office outlets currently use electronic boxes with patches that glow solid green. Employees mark their presence by pressing one finger on the unshakable green eye with the help of big data. More and more smartphones offer ‘face unlock’ as a standard feature: this phone has software that can be trained to recognize the owner’s face and unlock the cellphone when viewing a face. Which is less fancy recognizing fingerprints.
Banks and credit card companies allow you to authenticate yourself using your voice when you call their helpline. Some airports prepare to eliminate boarding passes, letting face recognition software do the work for you – this is standard practice in some Chinese terminals. The police routinely identify the perpetrators from recording surveillance cameras that record and store whatever happens under their watch.All this needs deep learning.
Then, of course, there are Google and Facebook, who know everything about you, because you are happy to provide that information to them without having to ask.
Bank and credit card reports fill your Gmail, in addition to medical reports and booking your trip. Your calendar helps you plan your life but also tells Google what you do, who you meet and where. Google Maps tracks your movements with confidence and accuracy that is far greater than what an agitated mother can do with her teenage daughter. Your search and search history, including on Youtube and whatever you watch goes into the Chrome browser, reveals more about you to Google than what you say to your therapist.
The Facebook idea of what you really like is not clear. The desire to be liked and not offend makes most people “like” a lot of things on Facebook that they might ignore if they don’t really hate. But Facebook certainly knows who your friends are, who their friends are, what they wear, what they do, where they go and what their main transition in life is. Facebook also has Whatsapp, India’s favourite messaging application. But Facebook claims ignorance about the contents of its message.
Amazon, of course, knows the colour of your consumer hedonism. Bookmyshow, Netflix and Amazon Prime know the movies you watch and might be able to draw your psychological profile. Your wallet and payment card company analyzes your expenses before you ask for it.
Your smartphone is loaded with applications that search and obtain permission to access your contacts and messages, scan your photos and inherit 1% of your assets when you die. (Can you put your hand in your heart and swear you didn’t do it?)
The point is that a number of private companies collect, store and act on a lot of your personal data. Your intestinal bacteria have your mood and your level of sanity. Your data collector dictates your behaviour, leaving a few small rooms, we hope, for God’s sake, your partner and conscience, act together or together.
The point is that data protection is not just about Aadhaar:
Most Indians now have a 12 digit unique identity number (UID) and have linked it to their bank account, telephone number and income tax. Permanent Account Number (PAN). The problem is, many other Indians, in addition to the appointed authorities responsible for Aadhaar, also have at least the Aadhaar number and demographic details of their citizens.
, if not their biometric data. Over and over, state government departments have issued lists of beneficiaries from various state schemes, complete with Aadhaar numbers. Tribune reported major violations in the Aadhaar link to agencies across the country that registered members, allowing several entrepreneurs to sell Aadhaar details to anyone willing to pay Rs 500.
The Indian Unique Identity Authority (UIDAI) has responded with a dynamic Aadhaar numerical scheme that is dynamically generated and remains valid for a limited period of time for limited purposes. This is a good solution but does not address the loss of privacy of the ID number lost in previous data violations.
Ideally, UIDAI must issue a new Aadhaar number for all previous allotted, and continue with virtual numbers based on the new set of numbers. This will be administratively difficult and expensive but must be done to secure Aadhaar, which is a valuable government tool.
Bad, leaked registration is not the only problem with Aadhaar. The legal basis for use by non-state entities is torn down by the Supreme Court. Until now, Aadhaar can only be used for the purpose of channelling government funds to beneficiaries, in addition to identifying taxpayers.
This is a result of the inability of Supreme Court judges to appreciate the extraordinary benefits that Aadhaar brings to microfinance companies and their millions of customers. Or empowering Aadhaar for migrant workers on land far from home, allowing them to establish their identity and secure bank accounts and telephone connections. The problem is twofold: one is the magic of the Indonesian Government, to get the Aadhaar law passed by Parliament as Bill’s money that passes through the Rajya Sabha; and the other is a failure to enact, before making a law on Aadhaar, a carefully thought out data protection law.
The coming year will see this problem corrected. Appropriate data protection laws must be enacted, seeking consensus rather than strong steps from the type that hit the Aadhaar Bill through Parliament. Aadhaar must be reinstated, protected by strong data protection laws and the spilling of Bill’s money tags.
The judges said that the Indonesian Government could justify the ratification of the Aadhaar Bill as money which then felt restricted to restrict the use of Aadhaar to matters relating to government money. The obstacle must go away, to allow the private sector to use the Aadhaar Based Biometric Authorization (ABBA). ABBA is the main driver for the poor part of society. To return it, the safest and most certain method was to pass Aadhaar again, past the two Houses of Parliament.