Centre for Internet & Society

This event was organized by Indicus Foundation and MicroSave on December 10, 2015 at the Metropolitan Hotel and Spa, New Delhi. Sunil Abraham was a speaker.

While the initiative towards financial inclusion has gathered new impetus with the PMJDY and the accelerated roll out of benefits, there is also a parallel narrative of concerns over the legality and fundamental constitutionality of identity verification, which is a centre piece for delivery of financial benefits and services. These divergent narratives have now reached the Supreme Court.

At one end of the spectrum are the voices that avow the power of biometric technology to irrepudiately establish biological identity; at the other, the alarmism over targeting, concentration and misuse of personal information contained in the world’s biggest personal database. There is also a third extreme position of whether Indian citizens are entitled to the right to privacy constitutionally, and whether the right to privacy includes the right to refuse a national identity number or metric altogether. That India has yet to enact a Privacy Bill and the National Identity Authority Bill on which rests the statutory basis for UIDAI and Aadhaar only adds to the quagmire.

Several issues lie intertwined in this miasma: Privacy as an absolute right; Definition and Limits of Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information; Consent protocols over use of personal information; Data Security; Appropriate and inclusive technology platforms; and Responsibilities and Liabilities governing the use of personal information for bonafide purposes. These straddle multiple domains: data accuracy and irrepudiability; storage, security and encryption; and sharing of information for transaction processing including across national boundaries. Unfortunately, all of these tend to get lumped together in the public debate.

The aim of this workshop is to unbundle the issues and understand each of them from the perspective of financial inclusion, to be able to answer these questions:

  • How essential and critical is a unified Identity metric for digital financial transactions? How essential is that such a metric be biometric?
  • To what extent does the centralised storage of biometric data represent risks of personal safety and national security, compared to the information on election voter lists, passport offices, census data, and bank accounts?
  • What are the possible sources of transactional risk and security breaches in data sharing, and what are the international best practices?
  • Is the present Aadhaar architecture robust enough to: address all the genuine and reasonable concerns over leakage and misuse of sensitive personal information; and to ensure that no genuine identity holder is turned away from a service, entitlement or benefit to which (s)he has a right or claim?

In this direction, we have the privilege to interact in this workshop with experts from The Centre for Internet and Society, and Data Security Council of India who have been at the forefront of the discussions on privacy and data security aspects of technology based innovations including for financial inclusion.

Download the Workshop Schedule here