The 1448 page Aadhaar judgement has created some confusion in the industry circles about what exactly is the impact of the judgement on the industry.
In particular, key industries which are concerned are the FinTech industry, Telecom industry and Banks. They were using Aadhaar as the base for conducting e-KYC which could be completed in realtime and at a very nominal cost such as around Rs 15-25 as against manual KYCs which may cost upwards of Rs 200/-. The e-Sign system which was “Electronic Signature” under ITA 2000/8 also depended on e-KYC.
After the judgement, there is a doubt on whether private sector can continue to use Aadhaar as a basis of conducting KYCs. KYC is an important element of opening of Bank accounts and curbing of benami accounts. It is not good for the Country if hurdles are placed on the KYC system and we fall back on the old practices where black money thrived through fake accounts all round.
Hence proper clarity is required on whether the judgement means a “Ban on use of Aadhaar for KYC” or requires only a modification in the current approach.
The honourable Supreme Court and those who swear by “Freedom for Everything” donot like the word “Ban” whether it is for Crypto Currencies or for Sabarimala temple entry. But this “Ban on Aadhaar” is sweet news for many of these freedom lovers.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court often is swayed by the popular gallery opinion when such issues arise. Aadhaar judgement has tried to avoid it to the extent possible but still the pressures from the lobbies which control public opinion and trying to manipulate the Supreme Court judgement has ensured creation of so much confusion in the minds of the Judges that some parts of the judgement remain ambiguous and reflect the confusion of the judges.
Another aspect on which the Judgement is treading on a dangerous path is in diluting the Information Security aspect of transactions where Aadhaar is used by trying to make prescriptions on what elements of transaction data are to be collected and what period they should be retained etc.
It is our responsibility that the mistakes or ambiguities in the judgement have to brought into public debate. This matter is of such importance that the debate would go on for a long time. But we need to set the direction for the discussions and contribute some thoughts before the Government freezes on the public comments to the draft Personal Data Protection Act 2018 (PDPA 2018) which will close by 10th of October 2018.
Within the short time available, a few thoughts of the undersigned would be shared through these columns so that they may be considered when the draft of PDPA 2018 is discussed in the Parliament.
It is possible that some may feel that these views are spectacularly wrong and have to be rejected outright. Nevertheless, it is essential that if Supreme Court has unfairly brought obstructions to the legitimate business, it has to be pointed out.
At the same time, the industry has to be also faulted for not understanding the direction in which the wind was blowing and remained adamant despite an attempt to make them realize that some changes were required in their current practices of using Aadhaar.
But we are not keen on telling the indusry players “I told you so…you ignored…and now you suffer..”. Nor are we interested in criticising the Judiciary that they did not understand the technology issues and were swayed by the anti Aadhaar sentiments in the eco system. What we are interested is in suggesting that we interpret the judgement in such a manner that the concerns of the Judiciary are addressed but at the same time concerns of the industry are not brushed aside.
I hope that in the next few articles, we shall throw up some thoughts which the larger audience may start debating. I wish we had more time to have a series of public interactions explaining some of these thoughts and eliciting an informed response from experts. But the time available before October 10th is too short. Hence I am placing my views here and leaving it to the experts to debate elsewhere.
Let us go ahead in trying to drill through the 1448 page judgement and how it is likely to affect the industry.
…..To be Continued
Reference: The Copy of the Judgement
Disclaimer: The views expressed here and elsewhere on this site are the personal views of Naavi and not the views of any organization or group that he may be associated with.