Amazon is asking customers in India — a large and crucial market — to upload copies of their Aadhaar, India’s controversial biometric ID, to its website to track down lost packages. BuzzFeed News reviewed chats between half a dozen Amazon customers in India and the company’s customer service agents in November and discovered that Amazon’s agents said not uploading a copy of Aadhaar “might result in a delay in the resolution or no resolution” of the case.
The move has baffled Amazon’s Indian customers. For months, Indians have been grappling with their government forcing them to link Aadhaar with their bank accounts and health insurance among other things. Private companies like cellphone carriers and FedEx have also demanded customers’ Aadhaar details to provide services. Many are concerned because critics say linking Aadhaar to both significant and mundane parts your life enables the state and private players to track your every move.
“[Being asked for my Aadhaar] was like being blackmailed to link [it] with my Amazon account if I wanted to get the products I had already paid for,” Shraddha Kosaria, an Amazon customer in the Indian city of Kolkata, told BuzzFeed News. “It was absurd and frustrating.”
“There are people who may not have any other form of ID besides Aadhaar,” an Amazon spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “And we really need to establish the identity of an individual when they claim missing packages.”
India’s Aadhaar program is a centralized, government-sanctioned database that links demographic information such as names, dates of…