The world's largest biometric ID - Aadhaar is often criticised for its privacy issues. Despite criticism about the system, global influencers like Bill Gates have expressed their support citing the benefits that it holds for governance of the economy. He has also funded the World Bank through his foundation to help it take the approach to other countries.
A recent study called the 'State of Aadhaar' conducted by a global analytics firm known as IDinsight revealed that only 7 percent of the population knew about Aadhaar authentication process.
The survey on 2,947 rural households in 21 districts across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and West Bengal, gave astonishing results. 41.6 percent did not know that enrolling in the Aadhaar system was free of cost.
Most of them knew about the possible misuse of information shared using Aadhaar but did not know the precautionary steps the government had taken to prevent it from happening. For example only 3 percent knew that one can lock and unlock the biometric information on their Aadhaar as per their wish. Also Read: How To Lock Aadhaar Card Online?
Similarly, only 10.1 percent knew about Aadhaar OTP authentication that can be availed by linking your mobile number to it. It is one of its best features. It allows Aadhaar based e-KYC, that will help you start any service account much faster than traditional paper verification, like opening a bank account.
Some even allow you to avail their services without visiting the branch but many (67 percent) of the bank account holders went to the bank with their Aadhaar cards to get it linked, rather than do it online.
Apart from lack of awareness, error in Aadhaar data caused disruption in everyday lives of the Indian population. The study also revealed that 8.8 percent of Aadhaar holder reported errors in name, date of birth, address, etc in their ID's data.
When the government made Aadhaar linking with PAN compulsory, many failed to comply due to an error in their fed data. Long queues and limited resources working in Aadhaar-aiding offices made it worse. Citizens had to wait in line for days to get their data corrected if their mobile numbers were not linked to it.
Apart from such inconveniences, non-seeding of Aadhaar and mismatch in its data also caused about 2 million individuals to be excluded from PDS (public distribution system) in these three states, despite government's clarification that basic facilities like PDS cannot be denied from lack of Aadhaar.
The public, however, seemed to have accepted the government's decision to make Aadhaar use mandatory. 87 percent of the people surveyed approved it, but 96 percent of them agreed that they value their right to privacy and feel it is important that they know what the government is doing with their data.