The privacy versus policy battle is already playing out, as a committee works to frame rules on protecting privacy and the Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of petitions on privacy and Aadhaar.
The Register General and Census Commissioner of India has turned down state governments’ request on sharing data from the National Population Register (NPR). The reason: privacy concerns. States had asked for the data to better manage welfare payments to recipients because unlike Aadhaar, NPR provides more information about an individual, including family and occupation details.
The National Population Register (NPR) is a register of residents of India. NPR’s stated purpose was to identify illegal immigrants and to provide a Unique National Identity card. The database is supposed to be constantly updated, registering births and deaths. NPR’s website says that data is being collected at district, state and national levels under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. It is mandatory for every ‘usual resident’ of India to register with NPR. NPR defines an usual resident as a person who has resided in an area for 6 months or more, or a person who intends to reside in an area for 6 months or more.
Like Aadhaar, NPR has been collecting photographs as well as biometrics, that is, iris scans and fingerprints. But NPR took second place in government’s priorities after the launch of Aadhaar.