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CAG audit raps UIDAI over Aadhaar data quality, privacy concerns & Bal Aadhaar

CAG audit raps UIDAI over Aadhaar data quality, privacy concerns & Bal Aadhaar

CAG audit raps UIDAI over Aadhaar data quality, privacy concerns & Bal Aadhaar
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By CNBCTV18.com Apr 7, 2022 8:44:27 PM IST (Updated)

The CAG was particularly harsh on UIDAI’s decision to issue Bal Aadhaar cards despite the Supreme Court making an exception for children, saying no child can be denied benefits of any scheme if he or she did not have an Aadhaar card.

Even though the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has issued Aadhaar numbers to nearly 99 percent of the adult population in India -- over 131 crore by December 2021 -- the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India flagged several issues with the exercise.

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The CAG audited the organisation's performance and presented its report on the ‘Functioning of Unique Identification Authority of India,’ which was tabled in the Parliament on the last day of the Budget session.


The report highlighted the various failings as observed by the CAG of the Aadhaar exercise and the UIDAI’s practices. The report pulled up UIDAI over the quality of the Aadhaar data that has been collected, the issuance of the Bal Aadhaar and the statutory body’s data storage processes.

Data matching

The CAG report said the issues of data matching, data uniqueness and poor data quality were a large problem in the UIDAI’s current performance. Issues with poor data quality, data still not being matched after years of existence and other data issues were some of the problems that the CAG filed in the report.

The report stated that “the quality of data captured to issue initial Aadhaar was not good enough to establish (sic) uniqueness of identity.” It added that the UIDAI has done much to improve the data quality of Aadhaar biometrics, but “the database continued to have faulty Aadhaars which were already issued.”

The CAG noted that over 4.75 lakh duplicate Aadhaars were cancelled by November 2019. The large number of voluntary biometric update requests every year also highlight that the data gathered was not of the best quality.

Bal Aadhaar

The UIDAI issues Bal Aadhaar cards to children below the age of five, but these cards are issued on the basis of biometric details of the parents. The children themselves do not have their biometric identities confirmed for the sake of uniqueness, which is “violative of the statutory provisions,” the CAG report pointed out.

The CAG lambasted UIDAI’s decision to issue these cards despite the Supreme Court making an exception for children, saying no child can be denied benefits of any scheme if he or she does not have an Aadhaar card.

The organisation has spent over Rs 310 crore on issuing Bal Aadhaars till March 31, 2019. The CAG recommended that the “UIDAI may explore alternate ways to capture (sic) uniqueness of biometric identity for minor children below five years since uniqueness of identity is the most distinctive feature of Aadhaar established through biometrics of the individual.”

Data storage

The data storage practices of the UIDAI have been consistently questioned by privacy activists for years now. While the CAG does not comment on the issue of privacy, it does state that the UIDAI does not have a data archiving policy.

“UIDAI is maintaining one of the largest biometric databases in the world; but did not have a data archiving policy, which is considered to be a vital storage management best practice,” the report stated.

As a recommendation, the CAG report stated that the “UIDAI may frame a suitable data archival policy to mitigate the risk of vulnerability to data protection” along with reducing the usage of data storage by weeding out duplicate data.

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