UID: A Data Subject's Registration Tale

Posted by Mukta Batra at Sep 11, 2014 08:55 AM |
A person who registered for UIDAI shares their experience of registering for the UID Number, on the condition of anonymity.

The registration process begins with filling a form, which has a verification clause at the end. This is a statement that the data, including biometric data, is correct and is that of the registrant. The presence of the word ‘biometric’ in relation to the verification creates tacit consent in the collection of biometric data.

The data subject registered for the UID number as several utilities were being linked to the UID number at that time.

The data subject pointed out three areas for concern: (i) optional data was being collected under protest; (ii) the subjects documents were being taken out of their sight for scanning; (iii) the ownership of data.

While registering for the UID number, data subjects have a choice not to link their bank numbers to bank accounts and to utilities such as gas connections. This data subject noticed that the data operator linked these by default and the data subject had to specifically request the de-linking. The data operator did not inform the data subject of the choice not to link the UID with these services. If this is the state of affairs for the conscious registrant, it is unlikely that those who cannot read will be informed of their right to choice. Their information will then be inadvertently linked and they will be denied the right to opt out of the linkage.

This data subject additionally noted that their right to refuse to provide optional data on the registration form was blatantly disregarded by the enrolling agency. Despite protests against providing this information, the enroller forcibly entered information such as ‘ward number’, which was optional. The enroller justified these actions - stating: the company will cut our salary. Unfortunately, registrants do not know who the data collection company is.

Where the data subjects do not know who collects their data and where it is going, there can be no accountability.

This incident seems to show that the rules on personal information are being violated. The right to know: the identity and address of the entity collecting the data,[1] the purpose of data collection,[2] the restrictions on data use[3] and the right not to disclose sensitive personal data [4] are all granted by the Information Technology Rules. Data subjects also have the right to be informed about the intended recipients[5] and the entities that will retain the data. [6] The data collector has failed to perform its corresponding duty to make such disclosures and has arguably limited the control of data subjects over their privacy.

If this is what other UID registrations are like, then perhaps it is time to modify the process of data handling and processing. The law should be implemented better and amended to enable better implementation either through greater state intervention or severe liability when personal information is improperly handled.


[1] R.4(3)(d) of the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011.

[2] R. 4(3)(b) Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011.

[3] R. 4(7) Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011.

[4] R. 4 (7) Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011.

[5] R. 4 (3) (c) Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011.

[6] R.4(3)(d) Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011.

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