Polity & Governance Prelims cum Mains

Offline apps to protect privacy

The News

  • In an effort to address fears over surveillance, breach of privacy and data farming, the Centre is promoting offline verification tools for Aadhaar such as QR codes and a paperless KYC that will not require sharing of biometrics or involve UIDAI servers for authentication.
  • The KYC process will not even need users to reveal their Aadhaar numbers, the collection of which has often been subject to controversies over potential data mining and tracking.

 

How this will work?

  • Option 1: A service provider can download a QR code reader from the UIDAI site or get scanner that can read the code on an Aadhaar number printout.
  • Option 2: The UIDAI offers a ‘paperless local eKYC’, too, which can be stored on laptop or phone.
  • As long as a service provider has the appropriate software, a user can share the zip file with a “share code” to establish ID.
  • eKYC and QR codes protect privacy as UIDAI is ignorant of their use.
  • Also, you can restrict demographic information, giving only name and address.

 

 

Significance of this step

  • The offline processes will fulfil the Supreme Court’s order + ruling out biometrics-based Aadhaar authentication for private firms.
  • The offline KYC can be used by service providers, including government, and will be in addition to other IDs such as driving licences, ration and electoral photo cards, passports and PAN cards.
  • The government hopes reliability of offline Aadhaar KYC will make it popular and also provide options to fintech firms that are disadvantaged by being denied access to UIDAI authentication.
  • The eKYC can help open a bank account or get a phone connection without sharing unique ID number. This could help do away with the need to amend the law to enable authentication through the Aadhaar server.
  • Since the tools are offline, the government will not know if you have used Aadhaar to open a bank account, buy insurance or get a SIM, addressing privacy concerns

 

Note-

  • The two tools were developed before the SC verdict.
  • For everything other than direct benefit transfer, the two applications can be used for authentication.
  • This also addresses concerns of fintech companies.

 

What is QR code?

  • A QR code (quick response code) is a type of 2D bar code that is used to provide easy access to information through a smartphone.
  • In this process, known as mobile tagging, the smartphone’s owner points the phone at a QR code and opens a barcode reader app which works in conjunction with the phone’s camera.
  • The reader interprets the code, which typically contains a call to action such as an invitation to download a mobile application, a link to view a video or an SMS message inviting the viewer to respond to a poll.
  • The phone’s owner can choose to act upon the call to action or click cancel and ignore the invitation.

Types of QR codes

  • Static QR codes
    • The most common type, are used to disseminate information to the general public.
    • They are often displayed in advertising materials in the environment (such as billboards and posters), on television and in newspapers and magazines.
    • The code’s creator can track information about the number of times a code was scanned and its associated action taken, along with the times of scans and the operating system of the devices that scanned it.
  • Dynamic QR codes (sometimes referred to as unique QR codes)
    • It offer more functionality.
    • The owner can edit the code at any time and can target a specific individual for personalized marketing.
    • Such codes can track more specific information, including the scanners names and email address, how many times they scanned the code and, in conjunction with tracking codes on a website, conversion rates.

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