If you have Aadhaar card take these steps now and save your privacy
On the other hand UIDAI also says that you shouldn’t share your Aadhaar number with anyone. Confused much? Well, you are not at fault here. UIDAI guidelines are confusing and contradictory.When the UPA government launched the unique identification programme it said the Aadhaar number associated with each citizen of India will allow them to benefit by a better management and delivery of services, mostly government services and schemes. In simple words, Aadhaar card and number is something that gives you a unique identity to avail schemes and also works as the foremost identification document.
An Aadhaar account holds all the vital information of your being, which means it has your address, your date of birth, contact number, along with biometric information stored through 10 fingerprint scans and retina scans. If the technology were a little more advanced in India, they could even add your DNA signature. Long story short, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has all your information. Everything. But since it’s a government body there should be no harm to your privacy. To some extent.
What is the problem?
“Aadhaar number empowers residents of India with a unique identity and a digital platform to authenticate anytime, anywhere. Aadhaar number, in physical or electronic form subject to authentication and other conditions, is accepted as proof of identity of the Aadhaar number holder for any purpose.” This is what the UIDAI website says. Fair enough, we must say.
While it says “Biometric information is never shared” companies like Reliance Jio is already collecting fingerprints of its customers. We don’t doubt Reliance Jio’s good intentions to simplify the eKYC process, but it is not short of a privacy nightmare.
Companies like TrackID collects people’s IDs and creates kind of a social network, where you can even rate people for their services. Another company named Eko which keeps track of financial transactions.
Now the government has launched an Aadhaar Payment app, as the name suggests this app is connected to your Aadhaar account. And your Aadhaar account is connected to your bank account. So each time you go shopping you can pay using your fingerprint to make a payment.
Above the surface it may appear to be a harmless practice, but if criminals mind can hack POS machines we don’t have any reason to doubt they can’t hack these biometric machines as well.
You can do rest of the math. If your biometric data is out there, nothing keeps them from reaching your personal details as address and phone number. And also your bank accounts.
Here’s what you can do
Aadhaar card is a convenience, no doubt about that. It’s a never-fail identification document that we need. But in a country like India, which has almost non-existential cyber security norms, you can never be too safe especially when you are giving out all your information through a thumb impression.
But all is not lost here, there are a few things you can do:
1) Lock your biometric data
Yes, you can do that. Nobody can access you biometric data once you have locked it. Your demographic details like address, age and gender will still be accessible when needed. To lock your biometric data, visit this page https://resident.uidai.net.in/biometric-lock
It will ask you to enter your 12 digit Aadhaar number, a captcha and a One Time Password (OTP) that you will receive on your registered number. On the next page, you can lock your biometric information.
If you wish to unlock the information, go to the same page, follow the same process and on the last page click on ‘Unlock’.
2) Try to not to give a photocopy of the Aadhaar card to anyone, in physical or digital form. Avoid sharing your Aadhaar number with anyone. Remember, this number has all your information.
3) If there is no other option but to produce a photocopy of your Aadhaar card it is best to write the purpose and self-attest it.