Ajay Bhushan Pandey, DG and Mission Director, UIDAI, spoke to Business Today on Aadhaar enrolment crossing the one- billion mark. Pandey asserted that all privacy concerns have been taken care of in the new Act and the government is all set to introduce Aadhaar in more number of schemes and programmes.
How do we address the privacy issue?
We have an Act now, which says that every data, right from the enrolment time, is encrypted. So this data is not available to anyone without the permission of the person concerned. It will be in our data centre and it will remain encrypted except for a fraction of microsecond, when data is used for de-duplication and Aadhaar generation. Only for that time, it is decrypted, and thereafter, it is again encrypted. Tomorrow, let us say this data is leaked. The stolen data will be in the encrypted form. Our encryption is so strong that if anyone tries to break it, it will take the age of universe to break one set. Your data will be given without your consent only in two cases: First, if the court orders us. Secondly, in the extreme cases of national security, where a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary authorises that the disclosure is required. So, there is a very strong privacy clause.
Is it purely voluntary?
Section 7 of the new Act says that the Central or state government can say that for this subsidy or for this programme, the funds for which is out of Consolidated Fund of India, will require an Aadhaar card. Once the Act is passed, the Central government can say that if you want scholarship, you have to give your Aadhaar number. If you want LPG subsidy, you have to give Aadhaar number.
We have seen cases where machines are not recognising fingerprint verification, especially in the case of NREGA payment. Have you been able to sort out this problem?
We have tackled this issue. That is why we have issued 100 crore cards. The other possibility is that in the entire process, somewhere in the link, there could be some glitch. And that is possible. For that one has to establish an alternate system to meet such exigencies. We have improved on this front. And the system is becoming more and more reliable. But if it is still not reliable, people should not suffer. This should be identified through some other means and benefits should be given.
How many persons are involved in the Aadhaar mission?
We have more than 320,000 operators who are certified. All of them may not be working, as there are only 40,000 enrolment centres at the moment. If more people are required, these are trained people who would be available. This will be an ongoing programme as people's faces will change, biometric will also need to be captured more than once. Their names will change, addresses will change, so updating needs to be continuous.