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Karnataka’s drive for Aadhaar linkage raises privacy concerns

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  • 3 min read

The Karnataka Education Department is making significant efforts to link the Aadhaar number of all students in the state to the Student Achievement Tracking System (SATS) while also planning to share the data with other government departments. SATS is a statewide database designed to monitor student progress.

The department has reported that 84% of students in private, aided, and government schools in Karnataka have already linked their Aadhaar numbers to the system in preparation for the upcoming 2023-24 academic year.

While the Education Department claims that the Aadhaar linkage is necessary to prevent duplicate entries, a recent report by TheNewsMinute discovered that the Education Department is planning to share the Aadhaar data with other government departments such as Health and Transport so as to track all aspects of the student’s academic life.

The collection of Aadhaar details initially focused on government and aided schools but has expanded to include private schools over the past year. A circular released by the Department of Education in February 2023 stated that Aadhaar numbers must be collected for all students in private schools to facilitate scholarships, entrance exams, and other government services.

Why parents are worried about data collection?

The mandatory collection of Aadhaar data raises many legal and moral questions.

Aadhaar data has been hacked in the past and this raises many questions about the efficacy of the current data collection and storage system.

The parents have expressed concerns about the privacy implications of linking their child’s Aadhaar number to public databases. They worry about the exposure of personal information such as names, ages, and school affiliations.

Moreover, the Supreme Court of India, in its 2018 verdict ruled that Aadhaar is not mandatory for bank accounts, mobile numbers and school admissions.

The Education Department aims to achieve 100% Aadhaar linkage in SATS by the start of the academic year in June. Officials emphasize that the primary purpose is to prevent duplicate entries and streamline government schemes benefitting students.

However, there is a counter-argument to all this. There is no need for Aadhaar validation for students in private schools who do not receive government benefits. The private schools already maintain admission records shared with their respective boards.

While the parents are given a consent form, they feel pressurised to comply with the mandatory requirement rather than having the option to provide alternative government identification.

It is to be noted that Karnataka is not the only state where they are collecting Aadhaar numbers of students. Maharashtra and Telangana are already implementing similar measures. Delhi’s private schools will require Aadhaar for admissions under certain categories starting from the 2023-2024 academic session.

This mandatory collection of Aadhaar numbers is contradictory to the Supreme Court verdict and also raises questions on the right to data privacy.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: