Supreme Court raises concerns over use of data analytics to influence elections
UIDAI says Aadhaar data collection cannot be compared with Facebook data scandal perpetrated by Cambridge Analytica
New Delhi: The Cambridge Analytica scandal involving data breach of at least 87 million Facebook users came up in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, with a Constitution bench hearing the legal challenge to Aadhaar raising concerns over the use of data analytics to influence elections and subvert democracy.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which administers Aadhaar, however, said data collection for the 12-digit unique identification number cannot be compared with the global scandal.
“These are not real apprehensions. We cannot compare it to Cambridge Analytica. We don’t have the algorithms that Google has,” UIDAI counsel Rakesh Dwivedi said.
Dwivedi added that algorithms under Aadhaar were simplistic in nature and used merely for matching data.
Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, however, said the interface of Aadhaar with the outside world was of particular concern.
Every requesting entity is required to have a prior contract to proceed with Aadhaar-backed authentication, the UIDAI told the court. Requesting entity is anyone submitting Aadhaar number, demographic data or biometric information of an individual to the UIDAI for authentication.
On being questioned how Aadhaar was being mandatorily linked to several services, UIDAI said it was done under laws under than the Aadhaar Act, 2016 which only allows linking for availing of benefits, subsidies and welfare schemes.
At the last hearing, UIDAI had claimed that Aadhaar would help prevent duplication of PAN cards by linking databases.
Curbing terrorism, money laundering, black money and delivery of subsidies and benefits have been listed by the centre as “legitimate state interests” in rolling out Aadhaar.
UIDAI maintains that Aadhaar is backed by a robust system of security and that there has not been a single breach of biometric data from its end. It was also claimed that Aadhaar had a 2048-bit encryption key, which worked like a number lock, making it extremely secure.
The matter will continue to be heard on Wednesday.
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