SC raises concern over possible Aadhaar data leak, seek justification from UIDAI

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The Supreme Court has raised concern over possible data leak in the absence of data protection law.A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on April 17 asked Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) counsel to justify the opening up of Aadhaar platform for private players.

A bench headed by CJI Misra heard petitions related to the validity of Aadhaar and has raised concerns over securing user data for influencing elections. The bench even mentioned Cambridge Analytica scandal and said that these are not “imaginary apprehensions.” Questioning the strength of Aadhaar in securing data, CJI said that in the absence of robust data protection law, the issue of misuse of information becomes significant.

In Aadhaar’s defence, senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi (representing UIDAI), revealed that unlike Facebook or Google, Aadhaar does not use artificial intelligence or machine learning. It only uses a matching algorithm where the identity of a person is matched with the details in the Aadhaar card for identity verification.

Dwivedi reminded the bench that Aadhaar data is not available on the internet. We don’t have the kind of data Google or Facebook has.

He reportedly added, “It only has a machine algorithm to establish ‘I am me’”.

A ‘campaign has been unleashed’ to make Aadhaar card like smart cards by the smart card companies, he said.

He further clarifies on the services of private entities that the data of the citizens has been protected under the Aadhaar Act, which also includes biometric details, and secondly, that there are provisions to punish an offender in the case of a data breach. Those provisions, we might add, only allow a user to report misuse to the UIDAI.

The UIDAI claims that Google and the smart card industry have created a lobby against Aadhaar and do not want Aadhaar to succeed.