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27 Dec 2017

Facebook now wants you to use your Aadhaar name

Private companies incresingly seeking Aadhaar details

The primary goals of Aadhaar were to give everyone an identity and ensure efficient implementation of government schemes.

It stopped being that long ago.

Earlier, Airtel unscrupulously used people's Aadhaar data to open Payments Bank accounts without their knowledge.

Amazon wants your Aadhaar details to track your lost packages.

Now, Facebook has started prompting new users to mention their full name according to Aadhaar.

In context

Private companies incresingly seeking Aadhaar details
First off, this is why Aadhaar has raised several questions


First off, this is why Aadhaar has raised several questions

There are several reasons why Aadhaar is controversial by itself. One argument by critics is that Aadhaar breaches citizens' right to privacy.

Another is security. How safe is the Aadhaar database from cyber attacks?

Moreover, there are concerns over reliability. Is there certainty that Aadhaar cards can't be forged?

Finally, are there enough checks to prevent possible misuse?


Here's what Facebook is doing (till now) with Aadhaar data

Now here's the latest. "What's your name? Using the name on your Aadhaar card makes it easier for friends to recognize you," says a prompt on Facebook when users are trying to register.

It is notable that not everyone can see this prompt.

A spokesperson clarified it isn't mandatory, but just optional, though Facebook has always wanted you to use your real name.

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Facebook is far from an epitome of ethics


Facebook is far from an epitome of ethics

Here's what makes it disturbing: Facebook is known for its privacy violations, collecting personal data even when users are logged out, and providing that data to third parties.

After its acquisition of WhatsApp, data from users' private messages often ends up being used by the platform to display customized ads.

In 2015, it faced massive criticism for Free Basics, which violated net neutrality.


Should we worry about Facebook's newest move?

Though Facebook is prompting users to mention their Aadhaar names, it's still a basic detail. It is not yet asking users for Aadhaar numbers.

However, if it does, it might gain access to a range of personal details about individuals, including their insurance policies, bank accounts and even tax information.

The SC will conduct the final hearing on mandatory Aadhaar on January 17, 2018.

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