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Identity pangs

  • Published
    27th Sep, 2023

Context:

A recent report by Moody’s organization on global digital IDs brings Aadhaar’s limitations, risks back into focus.

Moody's Concerns over India's Aadhaar Program

  • Moody's Warning: Moody's report raises concerns about India's centralized digital ID system, Aadhaar, citing security and privacy risks.
  • Biometric Authentication Issues: The report questions the reliability of Aadhaar's biometric authentication, particularly in hot, humid conditions, and highlights instances of service denials.
  • Historical Concerns: An earlier audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India identified privacy risks and enrollment flaws.

Benefits and Challenges of Aadhaar

  • Aadhaar's Ubiquity: Aadhaar has become integral for accessing welfare benefits, opening bank accounts, securing phone connections, and more.
  • Benefits: It enables direct benefit transfers, eliminating fraud and middlemen.
  • Exclusion and Authentication Challenges: Despite its benefits, Aadhaar has also excluded some individuals from essential services due to lack of enrollment or authentication difficulties, particularly among manual laborers and senior citizens.

Way forward:

  • Decentralization of Aadhar: Moody’s report advocates decentralized ID systems that empower users with greater control over their data.
  • Significance: This observation is significant given Aadhaar's role in MGNREGA payments.
  • Call for Review: The government should review and address Aadhaar's flaws, especially regarding privacy and biometric reliability, before further expanding its usage in areas like electoral rolls and private entities.
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