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3 Ways Aadhaar Data Reinforce Existing Digital Inequalities in India

– ICT Works

Shyam Krishna shares findings from research into the impact of India’s Aadhaar identity system, notably through a social justice lens in the context of informal workers

Krishna notes three major findings that could also be applied to non-Aadhar contexts, including asymmetry in digital identity formalization, data monetization for financial inclusion, and inconsistent consent or security issue redress.

“Transparency demands must be made from such governmental data-sharing arrangements especially as applicable in the under-researched global South situations. Mechanisms of accountability for monetization of personal data from governmental and private players alike need to be established including by studying the impact on vulnerable populations. This must be mirrored with advocacy of data-rights specifically among vulnerable populations alongside a strong push for programs on data-literacy.”

Krishna’s examples from informal workers like cab drivers or domestic workers highlight these issues and how improved data rights or increased accountability can help these workers feel comfortable using a digital identity system, while keeping their data safe.

There is growing evidence that digital identity can enable fair participation for marginalized users. But as my research ultimately signals the overarching need for the use of digital identity can result in and even be driven by unfair economic, cultural and procedural/political exploitation of vulnerable users and their personal data

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