The Supreme Court earlier said Aadhaar data can be used for commercial purposes.
- "Aadhaar data is not an atom bomb": Aadhaar authority UIDAI said in court
- Last week, court had expressed concerns about possible misuse of data
- 5-judge bench hearing petitions that question the validity of Aadhaar
A leak of Aadhaar data can influence the outcome of an election, the Supreme Court said today, continuing its exploration of the matter amid the huge controversy over the illegal use of Facebook data in the US elections. Last week, the court had expressed concerns about the possible misuse
of data of 1.3 billion Indians. It drew a sharp response from the Aadhaar authority UIDAI, who said "Aadhaar data is not an atom bomb".
"The real apprehension is the data available can influence the electoral outcome of a country... whether democracy can survive if Aadhaar data is used to influence the electoral outcome," said Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of a five-judge bench hearing a clutch of 27 petitions that questioned the validity of Aadhaar, flagged privacy issues and data leak.
The focus on illegal use of data by third parties has sharpened following the Facebook data misuse case, which became public last month. Disgraced British firm Cambridge Analytica had used data for psychological profiling on behalf of Donald Trump. The matter became a hot-button political issue in the country, with the Congress and the BJP trading charges of data misuse.
The court, which asked UIDAI for an account of its data protection procedure, today said the "problems are not symptomatic but real". Asking what were the "nature of the safeguards" in absence of a data protection law, Justice Chandrachud said, "We can't have a blinkered view of reality, because we are going to lay down a law which will affect the future".
Last week, the court asked if biometrics collected by the registering entities share the information with others once it obtains consent. Denying the possibility, the UIDAI said the moment the data is submitted, it is encrypted. "So there is no leakage or sharing of data," it added.
The Aadhaar authority, which has been under immense pressure since the first reports of data leak surfaced last year, today hinted at a conspiracy theory.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who represented UIDAI, said the petitioners have argued that smart card is better than Aadhaar. "They want smart card because institutions like Google don't want Aadhaar to succeed," he said.