Lobbies favouring smart cards don’t want Aadhaar to succeed: UIDAI to Supreme Court

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Search engine behemoth Google and smart card lobby did not want Aadhaar to be successful as they fear the UID project will put them out of business.

The above statement was made by the UIDAI before the Supreme Court while hearing several petitions against Aadhaar and its enabling law.

“If Aadhaar succeeds, smart cards will be out of business. Google does not want it. Smart card lobby does not want Aadhaar to succeed. That’s why these allegations are being made,” said senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi to a CJI-headed Constitution bench.

He added that there is a campaign running that Aadhaar should’ve been like smart cards, a Europe-based commercial venture.

“In place of Aadhaar authentication sourced from UIDAI, it would be better to put whatever data was needed for authentication purpose in a smart card, like credit or debit cards, for authentication by swiping,” marked one such petition filed challenging the validity of Aadhaar Act.

The bench, which hurled many questions, asked UIDAI about the issue of misuse of information on Aadhaar and why the authorities were allowing private entities to use the Aadhaar platform for various purposes and referred to the legal provision to this effect.

“The UIDAI simply does not have the learning algorithms like Facebook, Google to analyse details of users,” TOI report quoted the senior advocate adding that data collection for the 12-digit unique identification number cannot be compared with the global scandal.

Notably, the Cambridge Analytica scandal involved data breach of at least 87 million Facebook users. The government has sent a show-cause notice to the company.

On private parties involvement, the lawyer appearing for UIDAI added that it is a limited exercise. The UIDAI will not approve anyone to become a requesting entity unless it is satisfied that the particular entity needs to use a facility of authentication.

The Apex Court bench also raised concern that there could be a possibility of misuse or commercial abuse of information by private entities involved in Aadhaar authentication.

To this, Dwivedi said that the Aadhaar Act had provided enough data protection to citizens and contained provisions to punish the offenders for any breach. The core biometric data cannot be shared by UIDAI.

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.

In January, it introduced 16-digit Virtual ID after one of the national newspapers The Tribune reported data breach privacy concern. The report had revealed the easy access to Aadhaar details such as name, address, postal code (PIN), photo, phone number and email.

In a recent interview, UIDAI CEO said that Aadhaar is an enabler and is for empowerment and it is nowhere going to be a Big Brother or so.

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