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Aadhaar: India’s National Identification System and Consent-Based Privacy Rights


By: Anvitha Sai Yalavarthy


India’s national identification program, Aadhaar, created the largest national biometric database in the world. While the program is touted as voluntary, the increasing dependence on it, and the laws surrounding it, make it de facto mandatory. This Note examines the social and legal landscapes surrounding the Aadhaar program along with the principles of data privacy and biometric data collection in the European Union and the United States to show how those principles can and should apply to the Aadhaar system.

This Note suggests that the way to strengthen the Aadhaar system’s privacy regime is by balancing the principles of necessity and consent. This can be done through the national data privacy legislation that is currently in the works. Finally, this Note emphasizes the importance of the privacy rights and individual interests of the people, especially for a program where consent is meant to be the basis for data collection and in a country where privacy is a fundamental and constitutional right.

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