Aadhaar law provides adequate safeguards against data breach: UIDAI tells SC

Senior counsel Rakesh Diwedi, appearing for UIDAI, dispelled fears that UIDAI is collecting, storing personal information in meta data'.

New Delhi: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Tuesday asserted in the Supreme Court that Aadhaar law is very sound and it provides for proper and adequate safeguards against data breach.

Senior counsel Rakesh Diwedi, appearing for UIDAI made this assertion before a Constitution Bench of the Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, hearing a batch of petitions challenging the legal validity of Aadhaar law.

Diwedi said this in response to a query from Justice Chandrachud as to what are the safeguards in the Aadhaar law and whether any prosecution or penalty is provided for data breach. He also dispelled the apprehensions that UIDAI is collecting and storing personal information in ‘meta data’.

He said prosecution is provided under Aadhaar law and penalty is provided under the Information Technology Act, which can be used for prosecution and penalty. He however, made it clear that there is no sharing of information. He said the Justice Srikrishna committee is working on a law, which would ensure protection of data as well as balance the rights of privacy of an individual.

When Justice Chandrachud wanted to know as to what details are retained in ‘Meta data, Diwedi said no information about personal biographic details are received from the authenticating agencies.

“We do not know the location or the purpose for which authentication is sought. Meta data contains only unique device code to ensure that the authentication agency conforms to the prescribed standards”, he added.

Diwedi reiterated that no sharing of biometric information is possible as the moment the data is registered it becomes encrypted and stored in the repository.

Counsel quoting the common identity card law applicable to the European Union (EU) said ensures free flow of personal information between States within the EU and compared to this law, Aadhaar Act provides much more protection. He agreed that rapid technological advances was posing challenges in protection of data and Srikrishna committee is taking this into consideration to put in place a robust data protection law.

He said Aadhaar seeks to secure the poor and deprived sections of society to live their life and exercise their liberty by providing them a nationally acceptable identity, which gives them pride, dignity and self respect that they are part of the society. The object of the law is to ensure to the people adequate food at affordable prices so that people live with dignity. It ensures integration of social and economic rights to the marginalised sections of society, he said and added that the court must strike a balance between economic rights and right to privacy of few individuals.

Arguments will continue on Wednesday.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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