New Delhi: Trai Chief RS Sharma -- who had created a stir by making public his Aadhaar number and challenging others to show how it can be misused -- says he continues to believe that the disclosure of 12-digit identifier does not raise anyone's digital vulnerability.
In an interview to PTI, Sharma also said the recent Supreme Court judgement on Aadhaar has firmly settled the debate around issues such as privacy. "I again say that Aadhaar challenge...that challenge still stands. My Aadhaar is still public and nobody has been able to do any harm. I still continue to maintain that Aadhaar disclosure does not increase any of your digital vulnerabilities," Sharma said.
Sharma, former UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) director general, has been a vocal supporter of the Aadhaar programme, vouching for the safety of the system and dispelling privacy concerns over Aadhaar during his previous and current term as Trai chief.
In July this year, just days before his first three-year term was to come to an end, the fiery Trai Chairman had also engaged in a verbal spat with the Twitterati over potential misuse of Aadhaar. Sharma had disclosed his unique ID number on the microblogging site and asked people to show how mere knowledge of the number could be used to harm him.
The move had caused a social media flutter and a tsunami of tweets had ensued in the aftermath of what came to be known as the Aadhaar dare. On August 9, he was reappointed as the chairperson of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for two more years. In the interview to PTI, Sharma said the latest Supreme Court verdict on Aadhaar has put to rest questions and debates relating to privacy.
"Aadhaar, during enrolment, processing, generation...does not violate privacy. So, now its critics should understand that the highest court of the land has determined after a thorough deliberation...that Aadhaar as a platform, does not violate privacy," Sharma said. Authentication that is carried out, too, is privacy-preserving, Sharma said adding that the apex court has also held that "it is not creating any surveillance architecture".
"Now, the false claims and debate must end, at least, on these grounds," he said. Last month, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of 'Aadhaar' but limited the scope of the controversial biometric identity project, ruling that it is not mandatory for bank accounts, mobile connections or school admissions.
Holding there was nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violates right to privacy of an individual, the five-judge Constitution bench, in a 4 to 1 verdict, cleared the use of Aadhaar for welfare schemes. The court held Aadhaar will remain mandatory for filing of Income Tax (IT) returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN)....