Proposal to change Aadhaar authentication rules faces more opposition
The plan by India’s government to make rule changes that will allow private entities carry out ID authentication using the Aadhaar digital ID has already been criticized. However, the move seems to be facing further opposition from concerned groups and organizations who have called for an outright rejection of the proposal.
A submission on this issue was recently made to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology by four groups, namely Access Now, Article 21 Trust, the Internet Freedom Foundation and Rethink Aadhaar.
The submission, made early this month, was part of a public call for comments on the draft amendments to the legislation published by the IT ministry on April 20. The deadline for the public comments elapsed on May 20.
The concern of the quartet is that the changes to the Aadhaar Authentication for Good Governance (Social Welfare, Innovation, Knowledge) Rules, 2020, will give room for “commercial exploitation” of people’s personal data.
The groups also make allusion to the 2019 ruling by the Supreme Court of India which prevented the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) from allowing non-government entities to carry out Aadhaar authentication due to data privacy and security risks.
According to the groups, some of the arguments on why Aadhaar authentication should be done by private entities within the framework of the provision of certain services, are vague and not well defined.
They also pick issues with some aspects of the proposed changes to Rules 3 & 4 of the legislation. To them, the changes will enable exclusion caused by Aadhaar if its use is expanded, and that it could possibly enable state surveillance, among other issues.
While the groups decry the fact that no rights impact assessment has been carried out with regard to the rule changes, they also hold that the draft changes also have the capacity to proliferate Aadhaar-related fraud by expanding the number of entities that have access to Aadhaar data.
For these and other reasons, the groups thus believe that the proposed rules must be rejected as being violative of the Constitution of India and therefore should not be adopted by parliament.
Aadhaar authentication numbers healthy
While government and rights groups bicker over the proposed changes to Aadhaar authentication, the number of people completing authentication processes remains impressive, although April figures appear lower than those of March.
According to Financial Express, there were 1.96 billion authentications in April as opposed to 2.31 billion of them the month before.
Like it was reported in March, most of the authentications were done using fingerprints, and then demographic and OTP authentications.
The drop in numbers notwithstanding, observers say there is increasing interest in digital KYC which indicates the growing nature of the country’s digital economy.
Stone quarry workers face fingerprint authentication failures
It’s however not all rosy with the authentication process as some stone quarry workers in the country complain that they cannot complete their biometric authentication due to their failing fingerprints.
Some of the workers say for many years, they have been unable to benefit from food rations due to failed fingerprint authentications, reports The Times of India.
The outlet notes that about 300 victims in the residential locality of Wagholi do not get served at fair price shops as a result.