Amazon under fire for requesting Aadhaar numbers

December 1, 2017 - 

Amazon customers in India attempting to track lost packages are being asked to provide their Aadhaar numbers as proof of identity by the company’s customer care representatives, which critics contend could lead to privacy issues, the Economic Times reports.

Aadhaar numbers are meant and used for access to government programs and regulated services, such as telecom and financial services, but their use by private companies is contentious, and the degree of secrecy that individuals should treat Aadhaar numbers with is a matter of public debate.

“The use of Aadhaar in this manner could lead to privacy risks – in terms of implications of publication of Aadhaar data, as well as the use of data including Aadhaar and other customer information that could lead to individual profiling,” Smitha Prasad, project manager, centre for communication governance at National Law University in Delhi told the Times.

The Unique Identification Authority of India was forced to address the temporary publication of Aadhaar numbers on government websites earlier this month.

A spokesperson for Amazon said: “Amazon continues to look for the most robust practices towards customer support and this process is only done in limited cases where a detailed check is needed for a missing or wrong delivery. In such cases, customers are requested to upload a scanned copy of their Aadhaar card on their Amazon.in account, which is a secure form of storing information.”

The Times of India reports that while Amazon will provide package tracking information to customers providing other personal details rather than their Aadhaar number, Zoomcar requires customers to provide their Aadhaar number to use its services in some parts of the country, a policy it will soon apply nationwide, and other internet services companies, including Uber, are considering how to leverage the national identity system.

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About Chris Burt

Chris Burt is a writer and contributor to Biometric Update. He has also written nonfiction about information technology, dramatic arts, sports culture, and fantasy basketball, as well as fiction about a doomed astronaut. He lives in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @AFakeChrisBurt."