Aadhaar data may be misused to influence elections, says Supreme Court

Jeannie Matthews
April 18, 2018

Earlier, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has claimed that Aadhaar only collects basic data such as name, date of birth, gender, address, not personal sensitive information such as income, health, class and caste details. We can not compare ourselves with Google using learning algorithm, meant for Artificial Intelligence. We only have matching algorithm. "Unless we do it we can't win the trust of the people", Dwivedi said pointing to challenges being thrown at the implementation of Aadhaar.

Crores of rupees were charged on telecom major Airtel and Axis Bank by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for breaching terms and conditions associated with Aadhaar authentication, the agency told the Supreme Court on Tuesday. "There is a big entity which is controlling the data now".

On corporate entities, the UIDAI counsel said the corporate body has to first enter into an agreement with its employees for use of their Aadhaar data for identity authentication purposes.

Dwivedi also claimed that private companies, including smart card companies and Google, did not want Aadhaar to succeed.

"There is no objective or such intent in the Aadhaar Act", he told a five-judge bench led by CJI Dipak Misra which is examining several petitions that have challenged the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, on the ground of invasion of a citizen's right to privacy.

The UIDAI counsel also argued that Cambridge Analytica's data breach can not be an argument for striking down Aadhaar as it had "no learning algorithm like Google". "I want to assure my citizens that Aadhaar information is safe". We have seen this happening. Besides the UIDAI can refuse a private enterprise from becoming a requesting entity under the Aadhaar Act.

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Dwivedi told the court that contrary to apprehensions, it would be impossible for third parties to get Aadhaar details of an individual without the prior concurrence of UIDAI.

On being questioned how Aadhaar was being mandatorily linked to several services, UIDAI said it was done under laws under than the Aadhaar Act, 2016 which only allows linking for availing of benefits, subsidies and welfare schemes.

Individuals are being numbered with Aadhaar, similar to what Hitler had done, submitted the petitioners. "Private entities are playing the role that only public entities played hitherto".

"What is the goal of opening Aadhaar platform to private entities", Justice Chandrachud asked as Dwivedi told the bench that the entire funding of the project is from the consolidate fund of India. "They are bound by the law", he said.

The advancing of arguments remained inconclusive and would resume tomorrow.

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