Identity crisis! Data companies fuelling Aadhaar private debate, suspects Trai chief

By: | Published: February 19, 2019 5:19 AM

Internet companies that have built their businesses using public data are likely to have created the privacy threat debate around the country’s unique digital ID Aadhaar, Trai chairman RS Sharma said on Monday.

trai, data, aadharThe Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in its recommendation on data ownership issued in July last year had expressed similar views.

Internet companies that have built their businesses using public data are likely to have created the privacy threat debate around the country’s unique digital ID Aadhaar, Trai chairman RS Sharma said on Monday.

“My suspicion, I will have to prove that, but based on circumstantial evidence, we think that many of data companies are behind the issue. They want to create their own identity system,” Sharma said at ‘International Colloquium on Ethics and Governance of Autonomous AI Systems’.

Sharma, who was involved in the development of Aadhaar, said the Supreme Court after lot of deliberations has held that there is no threat to individual privacy from Aadhaar and despite this judgment many people continue to debate on Aadhaar.

“Why would somebody want a national identity to develop and become
national digital identity register. Many of these opposition (to Aadhaar) are happening because of these guys (data companies). They think that they should develop ID for the world,” Sharma said.
He said oil firms are no longer among the top 10 companies of the world but data companies are and their revenues are more than that of 60-70 countries. India is estimated to generate six exabytes of data per month which is the highest in the world.

“Because of fundamentally different nature of this commodity called data, our legal systems are extremely obsolete to deal with data, except we have now have privacy as fundamental right. Our legal systems are all built upon the physical world,” Sharma said.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in its recommendation on data ownership issued in July last year had expressed similar views. It has said rules for protection of personal data in the telecom space are not sufficient and suggested that consumers be given the right to choice, consent and to be forgotten to safeguard their privacy.

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Trai had recommended that the right to Choice, notice, consent, data portability, and right to be forgotten should be conferred upon the telecommunication consumers.

Sharma said there is need to develop framework and standards for interoperability and portability of data so that individual who owns data should have right to access his data or get a copy of that.
He further said like European data protection rules, India also needs to come up with such norms soon.

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