Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] Privacy rights, wrongs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Security - Privacy - Technology debate; Aadhaar issue

CONTEXT

Supreme Court has agreed to hear together multiple public interest litigations pending in Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh high courts, calling for the linking of Aadhaar with social media accounts. 

Why the linkage

  1. Death threats, criminal intimidation, smearing and stalking are commonplace in social media.
  2. The mills of rumor and fake news have the capacity to spark violence and conflict.

Challenges to the linkage

  1. It could have international implications and inspire litigation in other nations. 
  2. Privacy is at stake. Supreme Court clarified it and defined it as a “guaranteed fundamental right” in 2017. That SC judgment was hailed by Electronic Frontier Foundation, the pioneering digital civil liberties group.
  3. The right to privacy is fundamental and cannot be reduced under normal circumstances.
  4. The data security of Aadhaar remains doubtful and it is not mandatory even for banking purposes.

What needs to be taken care of

  1. The balance between the imperatives of privacy and security should be maintained.
  2. Right to life is absolute until a death sentence is pronounced, and the right to liberty can be conditional only in a state of unrest or emergency. 
  3. The question of striking a balance with an absolute right cannot arise under normal circumstances. 

Way ahead

  1. Phone numbers associated with social media accounts can identify owners with complete accuracy since sim cards are issued against identity documents.
  2. The technical solution to the problem – AI can identify dubious content by textual analysis and flag it as spam or malware. Twitter proactively swept away Chinese accounts spreading disinformation about the Hong Kong protests. 

Conclusion

The Supreme Court should mandate a technical solution because it cannot encroach upon the very value that is upheld and protected.

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