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Aadhaar Enabler of Human Dignity, Can't be Used for Surveillance: Govt to SC

The central government on Friday told the Supreme Court that Aadhaar can't be used for surveillance and that the technology architecture prohibits even profiling of individuals for tracking their activities.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:June 9, 2017, 2:14 PM IST
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Aadhaar Enabler of Human Dignity, Can't be Used for Surveillance: Govt to SC
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New Delhi: The central government on Friday told the Supreme Court that Aadhaar can't be used for surveillance and that the technology architecture prohibits even profiling of individuals for tracking their activities.

Submitting its affidavit in the top court, the government snubbed apprehensions that departments of the government will be able to track individuals using Aadhaar.

"As a matter of policy and by design, the UIDAI precludes itself from aggregating information arising from the use of Aadhaar, tracking and profiling individuals and the system by intent is blind to the purpose for which Aadhaar may be used at the front end by the resident," stated the affidavit.

The government said Aadhaar is built on minimal data, optimal ignorance and federal database which will prevent UIDAI or any other government authority from profiling any individual.

Meeting the arguments on breach of privacy by use of Aadhaar, the government maintained that a user department of the government will have information relating to only its domain and that it "will never have or will never be able to build a 360 degree view of any of its customers or beneficiaries”.

The government illustrated this by saying that a person can use Aadhaar for obtaining a SIM card, for receiving subsidies and for opening a bank account but the three agencies will never get to know about the user's information regarding the other.

It called the scheme as an "enabler of human dignity" and denied it would undermine human dignity or facilitate snooping.

The government added Aadhaar Act, 2016 was drafted taking into account the concerns regarding right to privacy and there is a detailed framework under the Act for protection of information, confidentiality and privacy.

"The privacy of the individual has been given highest respect," said the government, adding information can be disclosed only in the interest of the national security under a two-tier structure.

The affidavit has been filed in response to a PIL filed by former chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Shantha Sinha and others.

The petition filed through advocate Vipin Nair had challenged various notifications issued under the Aadhaar Act, and claimed the law undermined individuals' right to privacy.

Replying, the government sought dismissal of this petition and said only "elites" can have more concerns about privacy when the issue really is about people's rights to have food, subsidies and various other benefits under the welfare schemes.

On May 19, a vacation bench in the court had refrained from staying various notifications issued to make unique identity number mandatory for several social welfare schemes.

A two-judge bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar said that the court would not want to deal with the issue in piecemeal and would examine all applications against Aadhaar on June 27.

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| Edited by: Ananya Chakraborty
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