Washington: Aadhaar and the technology behind it do not pose any privacy issue, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said. In fact, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded the World Bank to take Aadhaar to other countries as it is “worth emulating”.
The 62-year-old multi-billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist confirmed that Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, who is considered as the chief architect of the UIDAI Aadhaar, has been helping the World Bank on taking the project to other countries.
Asked if India’s Aadhaar technology is worth emulating by countries around the world, Bill Gates replied, “Yes, the benefits of that (Aadhaar) are very high,” Mr Gates told news agency PTI.
More than a billion people in India have enrolled in Aadhaar, making it the world’s largest biometric ID system.
Speaking about the benefits of Aadhaar, Mr Gates said: “Yes, other countries should adopt the approach (of Aadhaar) because the quality of governance has a lot to do with how quickly countries are able to grow their economy and empower their people.”
“We have funded the World Bank to take this Aadhaar approach to many other countries,” he said.
It is believed that several countries, including some from India’s neighbourhood, have approached New Delhi for assistance in this matter.
“Aadhaar in itself doesn’t pose any privacy issue because it’s just a bio ID verification scheme,” Bill Gates said when asked about the concerns about privacy which were raised by few groups and individuals.
“The individual applications that use Aadhaar, you have to look and see what’s been stored and who has access to that information. And so, application by application, you have to make sure that’s well managed. In the case of the financial bank account I think it’s handled very well,” Bill Gates said.
“(It uses) Aadhaar to set up the accounts so that you can both get your cell phone and get your bank account,” he added.
Observing that Aadhaar was started before Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, Bill Gates said that it was very much to PM Modi’s credit that he was willing to embrace it.
“I’m both a good friend and an admirer of Nandan Nilekani and some of the initiatives of digitisation that can help with education, that can help with governance,” Mr Gates said.
In his lecture on ‘Technology for Transformation’ organised by NITI Aayog on November 2016, Bill Gates had said that Aadhaar is something that had never been done by any government or any country before – not even in a rich country.
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number for Indians, based on their biometric and demographic data. The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the Government of India.