about 1 year ago
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By Ruma Dubey

Expats living in the UAE are issued the Emirates ID Card. It is something like our Aadhaar Card – biometric with iris and fingerprints embedded and with a photo identity too. This card opens the door to everything – right from a bank account to airport immigration; the card is the one and all. The best part – if you have this card you do not need any other supporting documents. At the Dubai International Airport, those with the Emirate ID card just swipe the card, scan the fingerprints and you are done! No passport stamp or standing in long queues.

This comes to mind while reading the headlines of today that one can get details of any Aadhaar name by paying Rs.500 through a PayTM and that too, within 10 minutes. Enter the Aadhaar card number in this app and you get all the details - name, address, postal code (PIN), photo, phone number and email. Pay another Rs.300 and you can even get any Aadhaar card printed.

Obviously there is a major hue and cry as this tantamounts to major breach of security and could lead to identity theft.

But then the Emirates ID once again comes to mind. If we are not using the Aadhaar card as a biometric card at all, where it is just another add-on to the PAN Card, serving exactly the same purpose, what theft are we talking about?

You walk into any Vodafone or any service provider’s center. If you are applying for a new sim or getting a replacement for a lost one, they ask you for a mound of identity documents. You give the zerox copies to them and they just look at it and it then lays there on the table along with scores of other “identity data,” unprotected and out in the open for all to see. This is not just at such service centers; you go to a bank, people’s identity data lay there on the tables of the employees. So when people are so careless and lackadaisical about protecting data, what data theft are we talking about today?

And an Aadhaar, like the Emirates ID should ideally be the mother of all documents; you have that, you should not be required to provide more proof. But here, right from KYC to anything, why do we still require to give so many proofs – of age, of residence, and of being you? A look at the various “forms” one needs to fill at banks/post offices or anywhere shows that we always require to give all these documents, along with the so-called biometric Aadhaar:

  • KYC Form
  • Photograph
  • PAN Card
  • Aadhaar Card
  • Address Proof
  • Age Proof

So when we have linked PAN and Aadhaar at the banks already, why do the banks also keep on asking for copies of all this over and over again? Why can’t  simple biometric match be done to get all the required “proofs?”

The question is – what is this hullabaloo about identity theft when it is all always out in the open? And when biometrics are not really being used, what threat can this theft of data cause? Unless and until we start verifying Aadhaar with finger prints/iris/face recognition to ensure authenticity, what’s the point of this additional document at all?  

Thus we just keep on adding newer and newer “identities” but not a single one alone is good enough as proof. That’s the faith we have on our documents! Well, in a country where your identity is recognized only if you are rich, famous or politically connected, there is really no aadhaar to this identity theft cry!

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