In 2009, the Indian government introduced a widespread biometric identification system called Aadhaar—a national scheme that issues Indian citizens and residents a unique identification number while collecting and storing their most personal biometric and demographic information. As the Aadhaar system was implemented and promoted in India, widespread concerns grew regarding the storage and protection of such private information. How can Indian citizens enforce and protect their privacy rights? In 2017, the Indian Supreme Court attempted to address this issue by holding that an individual’s right to privacy is an inherent part of the right to life and personal liberty and is therefore implied under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Following the Supreme Court of India’s declaration that privacy is a fundamental right, the idea of a general-purpose identification database is constitutionally questionable. As there is no comprehensive legal framework for privacy protection and no explicit constitutional right to privacy in India, one must ask: is the Indian government violating individual privacy rights through Aadhaar? Regardless of this concern, in 2018 the Indian Supreme Court declared Aadhaar constitutional in connection to the mandatory linking of Aadhaar numbers with all government welfare schemes and services. In light of this decision, this Comment advocates that the Aadhaar system should have been deemed unconstitutional as a violation of individual privacy rights.
Additionally, with the growth of interconnected technology, it is important to address the consequences of a system like Aadhaar in the United States. How would a similar identification system function and would such a system even be deemed constitutional? To maintain a liberal democratic society that values and upholds privacy rights, the United States should avoid proposing such a system, no matter how beneficial or convenient it may seem.
Madison Julia Levine,
Biometric Identification in India Versus the Right to Privacy: Core Constitutional Features, Defining Citizens’ Interests, and the Implications of Biometric Identification in the United States,
73 U. Miami L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.miami.edu/umlr/vol73/iss2/10