There is a common perception that the main privacy concern with Aadhaar is the confidentiality of the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR). This is misleading for two reasons. One is that the CIDR is not supposed to be inaccessible. On the contrary, the Aadhaar Act 2016 puts in place a framework for sharing most of the CIDR information. The second reason is that the biggest danger, in any case, lies elsewhere.
To understand this, it helps to distinguish between three different types of private information: biometric information, identity information and personal information. The first two are formally defined in the Aadhaar Act, and protected to some extent. Aadhaar’s biggest threat to privacy, however, relates to the third type of information.
In the Aadhaar Act, biometric information essentially refers to photograph, fingerprints and iris scan, though it may also extend to “other biological attributes of an individual” specified by the UIDAI. The term “core biometric information” basically means biometric information minus photograph, but it can be modified once again at the discretion of the UIDAI.
Identity information has a wider scope. It includes biometric information but also a person’s Aadhaar number as well as the demographic characteristics that are collected at the time of Aadhaar enrolment, such as name, address, date of birth, phone number, and so on.
The term “personal information” (not used in the Act) can be understood in a broader sense, which includes not only identity information but also other information about a person, for instance where she travels, whom she talks to on the phone, how much she earns, what she buys, her Internet browsing history, and so on. [ Jean Drèze, The Hindu https://buff.ly/2zNdWXF ]
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