Hailing India’s Aadhaar digital ID, Microsoft founder and multi-billionaire Bill Gates said that the technology does not pose any privacy threat and worth emulating in other countries.
It should be adopted because the quality of government has a lot to do with how quickly countries are able to grow their economy and empower people, Gates was quoted as answering to a question by the PTI.
Gates, who also runs Gates Foundation, has already funded the World Bank to take Aadhaar approach to other countries.
“The individual applications that use Aadhaar, you have to look and see what’s been stored and who has access to that information. And so, application by application, you have to make sure that’s well managed. In the case of the financial bank account, I think it’s handled very well,” Gates said when asked about the concerns on privacy issues.
He also praised Narendra Modi and Nandan Nilekani for being open and innovative.
“I am both good friend and an admirer of Nandan Nilekani and some of the initiatives of digitisation efforts that can help with the education that can help with governance,” he said.
This is not the first time Gate has praised the Indian digital ID system. In November 2016, during an event organised by Govt think tank NITI Aayog, Gates said that Aadhaar is something that had never been done by any government before, not even in a rich country.
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number for Indians, based on their biometric and demographic data. The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
The government is planning to use Aadhaar in many more projects. It is planning to use it in National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) claimed to be the world’s largest health cover, to weed out fake treatment.
However, there are numbers of instances of Aadhaar data breach reports.
In January this year, a journalist of The Tribune got unrestricted access to Aadhaar details of more than a billion citizens in just Rs 500. It had details such as name, address, postal code (PIN), photo, phone number and email. After payment of additional Rs 300, the journalist was provided with software to have easy access to print Aadhaar card of any individual.
Besides, the government has also admitted fraudulent withdrawal using Aadhaar number, and said that there had been six incidents of such happening involving money around Rs 1.5 crore from banks.
Many industry veterans have called for its suspension asking a complete audit of its tech and processes to be fixed. They term it as a personal and national security risk.
Earlier in 2016, the World Bank praised the initiative and said it will save the government about $1 billion annually by curbing corruption as it underlined that digital technologies can promote inclusion, efficiency and innovation.
It would help the government to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in its welfare schemes, the bank added.