Indian Unique National ID will not include Personal Details

There’s some good news and some bad news for those who feel that the Unique Identity number for Indians will be an invasion of their privacy. First the good news. It turns out that the ID will be linked to only four pieces of information namely:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Date of Birth
  4. Fingerprints

This means that no sensitive information such as religion, caste, or income will be mentioned on the card thereby reducing the opportunities for discrimination. However, I’m a bit suspicious of the “address” field since it changes so often. One can only hope that either the process for changing it is simple or that it refers to a constant address such as your place of birth. This is more complicated than the address on the PAN card or the Passport, since those documents are for specific purposes, whereas this is a general Identification number.

Image Credit: Baranka

Indian Unique Identity Number

Indian Unique Identity Number

One interesting point is that since the card will not include caste information, how is the government going to use it to achieve it’s stated goal of ensuring proper implementation of schemes that rely on SC/ST data? Not that I’m complaining! The less information the better, but I’m just curious as to how this is going to work.

Moreover, it implies that apart from these four fields, more parameters are unlikely to be added since presumably the database structure is going to be set in advance and changing it later might be problematic. Also, collecting these four pieces of data is going to be difficult enough for a billion people. If they were going to add more data, they would do it from the start. There is always the danger however that as time goes by, the attraction of storing more and more information about a person will prove too powerful to resist.

The bad news is the implication that it might become compulsory after a period of time when voluntary registration begins to slow down. Nandan Nilekani proposes that this might happen after ten years or so. I’m against a compulsory registration as that might lead to abuses and injustice being perpetuated against those who are unable to obtain an ID or have lost their card. Incidentally, since we have seen that the Indian National ID will not be incorporating a card, how are they going to ensure that people know their Unique ID? More details will emerge on this later no doubt.

The whole issue bears close watching. It pays to be suspicious of governments as they have a tendency to abrogate the rights and freedoms of citizens in the name of “security” and “safety.” I’ll be covering further updates on this issue as and when they take place under the “privacy” tag. You can subscribe to the privacy RSS updates which cover all issues relating to privacy, with special attention to India.

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  1. Bhagwad, As you have already mentioned, the Govt. may not resist the temptation of adding more information, In my opinion, Govt. may do so from the very start. Since the database issues may creep in at a later stage. Moreover these information will help a long way in statistical data estimations and calculations.

    Lets see how things unfolds…


  2. a naga sridhar says

    how to get ID card