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Aadhaar Hearings: SC Now Refers To Cambridge Analytica Fiasco On Aadhaar Leakage

Aadhaar Hearings: SC Now Refers To Cambridge Analytica Fiasco On Aadhaar Leakage”

The constitution bench is hearing a batch of petitions by former Karnataka High Court Judge K.S. Puttuswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon, social activist Aruna Roy, Nikhil De, Nachiket Udupa and others challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the touchstone of the fundamental right to privacy.

Rakesh Dwivedi, counsel for the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which administers Aadhaar, dismissed such fears, saying the authority doesn't have the tools or the algorithms used by Facebook and Google.

UIDAI counsel has however denied any such possibility on grounds that they neither have tools nor power to do such level of data analysis.

The counsel referred to the Aadhaar law and said the UIDAI had no power to analyse data at all and "I challenge the other side to show us the provision to that effect and if that power is there, then please strike that down". The Act precludes us from getting any.

The court said, "When we mean surveillance it is not real or physical surveillance but commercial surveillance".

First Concern: What is the goal of storing metadata?

The bench gave the example that even judges in an African country can get the access to his or her chamber by using his finger prints, which are used only for the goal of the entry and the problem was that such data was being stored at a central repository. Technology is a great enabler to surveillance.

"If the government wishes to surveil, it will do so without Aadhaar", he said.

UIDAI: "We can not even tamper with the servers".

The bench also referred to the testimony of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg before the US Congress and said "you open the newspapers every day and see reports of how elections in even some of the most powerful nations were influenced".

"The 1.2 Bn Indians may be poor, but their data is a goldmine of commercially sensitive information."

Mr. Mehta responded that the court was right in thinking why the government should "intrude into the privacy of the entire population merely to weed out a few crores. but when tax evasions amount to Rs. 33,000 crore, it is a serious problem which Aadhaar linkage may curb".

To enable and boost offline Aadhaar verification process, the UIDAI has replaced the existing QR code on eAadhaar having resident's demographic details now with a secured digitally-signed QR Code which contains demographics along with the photograph of the Aadhaar holder.

Regarding use of stored metadata by UIDAI, Dwivedi said that the metadata was of authentication records and did not reveal anything about individuals.

Also, IDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) has introduced the beta version of the VID (virtual ID) feature. Generate your VID from Resident.uidai.gov.in/web/resident/vidgeneration. Not only financial services, even telecom companies have asked to link mobile with the Aadhaar number. "If the government wants to do, it will do without Aadhaar", he said. While it seems that the court is not convinced with the facts and measures brought on stage by the Aadhaar team, UIDAI does not seem to take a step back here. Take the instance of Cambridge Analytica.



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