A debate is ensuing in the country over the UPA’s flag project. The Unique Identification Database of India (UIDAI) or Aadhar is ensuring state’s overarching presence in our daily lives. The Aadhar database is streaming our bank balance, call logs, consumption choices, etc.
‘’Privacy’’, according to a Supreme Court constitutional bench means information which an individual doesn’t reveal to state consciously and hence, the state has no right to know them, even with a back-door.
Right to Privacy
Last year, a Supreme Court constitutional bench declared Right to privacy to be a fundamental right of citizens of India. This was under Article 21(Right to life and personal liberty). Reading the ruling in light of other fundamental articles, i.e., Article 14(Equality), Article 15(Freedom) concludes one thing. Protecting provisions of equality and freedom should not infringe personal rights.
Development of Aadhar database was to ensure that government benefits reached intended recipients, i.e., the poor. According to government claims, presentation of Aadhar was a panacea to end corruption in public distribution system, money laundering, and terror funding. The government has also legalised collection and use of personal data of Aadhar card holders. Aadhar(Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Act., 2016 enacted it.
Linking Aadhar to all other databases like bank accounts, PAN card, Ration card, etc. creates a real challenge for state’s overarching surveillance on its citizen through the creation of the biometric database. And further risk emerges from the fact that this private data could be sacrificed by intelligence authorities. Another risk which arises from this is leakage of data to third-party players like private players, enemy organisation or the ever-present “Big Brother.”
Glancing over these issues, we are reminded of assurance of the Supreme Court judgment which clearly states the need of balancing national security with the protection of sensitive topics.
How the authorities take action to protect citizen’s civil right, is unseen. Meanwhile, the fight to preserve the superiority of individual’s freedom and liberty over states whim is sure to go on now till one of them submits a scenario concluding either with the totalitarian state of Orwell’s 1984 or Machiavelli’s anarchy.