Government involvement in the tech industry has been on a rise and in India especially, the Tech scene has been marked with many such incidents. Aadhaar card that started out as a unified identity program for Indians had run into a fair share of trouble with people pointing over the privacy concerns. Since Aadhar card stores the person’s biometrics, the stakes are simply multiplied.
Indian government now wants Tech companies to open up their encryption to integrate Aadhaar card with the help of a government-funded lab. Millions of Indians are already using the Aadhaar card to access a varied range of facilities including banking. If the tech companies decide to drop out, customers might eventually be losing out on many services, however, they would also not abide and give access to the encrypted technology to the government authorities.
The companies are expected to be adamant to open up their ecosystems, and considering the perils of data mismanagement they are right in a way. According to Bloomberg, some time back a meeting was set up between Microsoft, Samsung Electronics, Google and Apple in order to discuss embedding Aadhaar encryption into their technology. Apple seems to have stuck to its grounds and decided not to attend the event.
No doubt Aadhaar has been revolutionary when it comes to a biometric identity program, especially after considering the sheer volume of citizens enrolled into it. The UID consists of a 12-digit ID which is unique to every man and this is accompanied with the biometrics including IRIS scans. The UID is expected to help the authorities get past the frauds and other anomalies and eventually help the poor get their due share of facilities.
The man running the Unique Identification Authority of India, Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that the industry representatives listened to the proposal and were non-commital from their end. But the government will not weaken its position and has seemingly asked the representative’s to “Go to their headquarters and figure it out.”
That being said, the entire episode has not been crystal clear and it still remains to be seen if the Government wants the implementation on a system level or settle with a third party service app (most unlikely). In case, the Technology companies integrate the authentication into their smartphones, they might lose the revenue made from mining the data and serving the users with the ads. Also, Apple has been fighting tooth and nail with the U.S government authorities after being asked to build a backdoor into its operating system. On the contrary Samsung has already launched Aadhar compliant Galaxy Tab and Microsoft is expected to link its Skype services with Aadhaar card.
The entire move seems to be based on a dicey foundation and can potentially result in a war between the Tech companies and the UID authorities. Previously, there have been reports of nearly 300,000 UID data being lost during uploading, a blunder that can compromise one’s security in entirety.