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Data privacy a major concern in India: Nandan Nilekani

April 23, 2019 18:54 IST

Data privacy, he said, is a broader argument beyond Aadhaar as it includes everything such as issues related to mobile phones and social media data.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

Nandan Nilekani, the technology billionaire who was the first chairperson of the Unique Identific­ation Authority of India (UIDAI), the parent organisation for Aad­haar, on Monday said data privacy is a major concern in the country.

Also, there is a need to make sure that people are protected as much as possible both legally and technologically, he added.

 

“I think it is something we should take cognizance of and we should be concerned about,” said Nilekani at an event organised by trade body Ficci.

When asked if Aadhaar could be misused referring to the Supreme Court case, Nilekani said the case was fought on multiple dimensions and there were many arguments including data privacy.

Data privacy, he said, is a broader argument beyond Aadhaar as it includes everything such as issues related to mobile phones and social media data.

Aadhaar is a relatively much simpler system because privacy problem becomes more acute when organisations collect personal data about people, while Aadhaar was never about collating that information, according to Nilekani.

“It was about giving identity and doing the verification,” he said.

However, one of the concerns was that if Aadhaar number becomes ubiquitous and is used in multiple applications, then the number would go into every database and somebody can combine the databases.

But Nilekani said private companies can’t store the Aadhaar number. Instead, they need to use virtual ID (VID) and UID token as a substitute of Aadhaar number for the purpose of authentication.

“A lot of features are there for privacy,” he said.

When asked if it makes sense to have ‘personal digital security’ as part of the curriculum in the schools, as children are growing up in a digital ambience, Nilekani said, some basic hygiene of digital security should be there.

Nilekani’s data privacy comments come at a time when the enterprises across the country are witnessing cases of sensitive data exposure risks and breaches as services are rapidly getting digitalised.

In February, French resea­rcher Robert Baptiste, who goes by the online handle Elliot Alderson, claimed he found a security breach that allegedly exposed millions of Aadhaar numbers of dealers and distributors associated with Ind­ane, owned by Indian Oil Corporation.

Peerzada Abrar in Bengaluru
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