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Aadhaar – A tale of privacy !

Give or not to give your biometric data to the Government is one hard question for us to address. However, a major question we forget to reflect upon is that in any case if the government decides to cheat on us, it will ! I know many would beg to differ and hence is the matter before judiciary.

A person’s house is his castle and he is the king of it. In other words, what an individual does inside his house is no one else’s business. He is not answerable to anyone and no one has the right to interfere and encroach in that space. It is his personal discretion whether to share and let out his information to other people or not.

Deliberations on right to privacy as a fundamental right are again doing its round across the country because of its link with the Aadhaar debate. This issue has been in discussion even in the past but no solid inference was reached.

Now, that we have a bench of nine judges to decide on the matter, we can hope to have a clear answer on this grey area. As of now, the whole conflict revolves around the government, who is batting for Aadhaar, claiming it is necessary to plug leakages in subsidy schemes to ensure the benefits to the ones targeted. And, the critics on the other hand believe that this move of the government violates privacy and is a form of data breach that will help government spy on people.

In India, people do not mind sharing their personal details if they find some free returns out of it. When the government asked for similar details in Aadhaar, the matter received odd responses. It was dragged to the court. No doubt, the details we share on social networking sites, online shopping websites, are not too grave but we still fall prey to cyber crimes and online frauds. The point that needs our trust in the Aadhar debate is the government’s plunge into making efforts for reforming the corruption led discrepancy. Citizens of India need to grow their awareness to understand the value and need for protection of their personal information.

Around 20 petitions have been filed in Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar card. It has been contended that finger prints and iris scan taken at the time of making an Aadhar is sensitive private information and maybe be used by the government to spy on its citizen. And therefore, it must not be compulsory to get an Aadhar card made.

Almost 70 years post independence; we still do not have a concrete law on privacy of our citizens. Sweden was the first country which granted Personal Identification Number to its citizens, through which they can procure the government benefits and schemes. Right to privacy also holds its existence in USA. Much like Aadhaar, America also has a Social Security Number for its citizen. But, it is not compulsory to have it as an identity proof until you wish to see any benefit under the government schemes.

Japan has ‘Act on the Protection of Personal Information’ to protect its citizens from any sort of violation. According to this Act, if any personal data of an individual is used for some purpose, his consent must be taken.

Making Aadhaar compulsory will be beneficial in many ways. It gives you an individual identification and also makes it easier for the government to identify its citizen. Number of government schemes and benefits are linked with Aadhar. It permits the card holder to avail the government subsidies according to his/her eligibility. Acquisition of passport shall become easy. It can come in handy while opening bank accounts.

The Supreme Court has asserted that in order to treat a right as a fundamental right, it is not necessary that it should be expressly stated in the constitution as a Fundamental Right. Political, social, and economic changes in the country entail the recognition of new rights. Law will change according to its social transformation. In the present debate, both the government and the one’s on the other side, need to stretch their imaginations to discover the ultimate path for the well being of the society at large.

 

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