AADHAR

Facts:
  • More than 111 crore people have Aadhaar in India, covering more than 99% of the adult population. According to official data, more than 4.47 crore people have opened bank accounts using Aadhaar e-KYC.
  • Aadhaar has helped the government transfer LPG subsidy, MGNREGS payments, scholarships and pensions directly into the accounts of beneficiaries eliminating diversion and leakage of funds by middlemen.
  • The direct benefits transfer has saved the government Rs. 49,000 crore during two-and-a-half years.
  • the past five years when more than 400 crore Aadhaar authentication transactions have taken place.
 
AADHAR vs Smart Cards
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has issued strict instructions to the Information Technology Ministry to ensure that States and the Central government stop issuing smart cards for new programmes for beneficiaries, and to rely on the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer platform instead. Aadhaar is now backed by a law.
  • The move will impact ministries such as Labour, Social Justice and Health, which are in the process or have already rolled out smart cards.
  • The IT department has also been asked to prepare policy on the delivery of various public services using Aadhaar, Jan Dhan Yojana and existing platforms without the issuance of new smart cards.
  • The government had recently said that over 100 crore people, constituting 93% of the adult population, had a unique identification (UID) number under the Aadhaar platform.
 
Why Smart Cards are better?
  • Global financial infrastructure works on Smart Cards not on Biometrics
  • Smart cards work using cryptography, which is more fool-proof than biometrics. Biometrics allow for remote, covert and non-consensual identification.
 
Ban on sharing AADHAR details
  • Government has banned agencies in possession of Aadhaar number to publish or post the information publicly to ensure that the details are not misused.
  • These agencies will have to ensure security and confidentiality of the 12-digit resident identification number under the Aadhaar Act, 2016.
  • The biometric information collected by UIDAI cannot be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever.
  • These agencies will also have been mandated to inform Aadhaar holders the purpose for which their details will be used. Any violation of the Aadhaar Act will constitute an offence and is punishable under the Act.
  • Under the Act, penalty has been prescribed for offences such as impersonation of the Aadhaar holder at time of enrolment, tampering with data and disclosing identity information.
 
Response of UIDAI on issue of breach in Aadhar data:
  • Dismissed reports of misuse & few isolated incidents are there.
  • Aadhaar system has the capability to inquire into any instance of misuse of biometrics and identity theft and initiate action. UIDAI uses one of the world’s most advanced encryption technologies in transmission and storage of data.
  • As a result, during the past seven years, there has been no report of breach or leak of residents’ data out of UIDAI. Further, the authority said it continuously updated the security parameters and undertook security audits.
  • Banks or mobile operators have to become UIDAI’s authentication user agencies and authentication service agencies to obtain e-KYC data of their customers from the UIDAI. Violations of the provisions attract strict penalties under the Aadhaar Act which will be enforced strictly.
  • Leaks of Aadhaar card details are not from the UIDAI, but at the State level