The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has accused Google and smart card companies of creating a lobby against Aadhaar. It has also said that the business of smart card companies would be affected if Aadhaar turns out to be a foolproof method of identity verification.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Deepak Misra is hearing petitions related to the validity of Aadhaar. Senior Counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, who is representing the UIDAI, said that a ‘campaign has been unleashed’ to make Aadhaar card like smart cards by the smart card companies, the Times of India (ToI) reported.
Questioning the validity and strength of Aadhaar to secure user data, the CJI raised concerns over the misuse of user data for influencing elections. The bench brought up the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the personal data of Facebook users was used to influence US elections, and even Brexit. In Aadhaar’s defence, Dwivedi said that unlike Facebook or Google, Aadhaar does not use artificial intelligence or machine learning. It uses only a matching algorithm where the identity of a person is matched with the details in the Aadhaar card for identity verification. He reportedly said, “It only has a machine algorithm to establish ‘I am me’”.
He also clarified that the Aadhaar data is not available on the internet, from where it can be stolen. We’d like to point out of course that it’s not clear whether he’s talking about biometric data or demographic data. Multiple leaks in the past, especially from government entities, has resulted in the demographic data (name, address, contact details, etc.) of several thousand Indians, if not millions of Indians.
Meanwhile, speaking of misuse of data by private entities, according to PTI, Dwivedi reminded the court of various instances where the services of private entities have been introduced in the public sector, such as that of Reliance providing help in the defence sector. In his defence regarding no misuse of data by the private entities, the UIDAI representative further added that firstly, 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. In fact, the UIDAI is the only entity that can initiate any action against an Aadhaar violator.