Government to allay fears of Aadhaar petitioners

The government is set to argue that the Aadhaar rules and legal framework support the concept of “limited government“ in terms of collecting minimal required information while the security of its data meets international standards.

With the legal challenge to Aadhaar pending in Supreme Court that is scheduled to hear the case on Friday , the government is looking to assure petitioners holding reservations about the unique identity number scheme that it meets the norms that they are advocating.

“The Aadhaar system does not record the purpose of an authentication and the Act clearly lay down a jail term for a user agency that shares the data. So it is not as if a mobile telephone company can share its data with a tele-marketer.The use must be restricted to the stated purpose, say identification requests for sale of SIM cards,“ said a source.

The possibility of theft, misuse or destruction of data collected by UIDAI has been reduced as the data is highly encrypted, maintained in discrete locations and managed by a professional agency .

The security quotient was also reflected by the data not being leaked even at the stage of private vendors collecting biometrics. The government also feels it has taken several steps to ensure exclusion is reduced and it is quite justified to demand use of Aadhaar for those seeking benefits from official programmes.The aim being to ensure that genuine beneficiaries get the subsidies under various welfare schemes that add up to thousands of crore of rupees.

The legislation governing Aadhaar also prohibits UIDAI, other ministries and departments and private users to share the identification information without consent of the individual.

The Centre is likely to cite section 29 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidises, Benefits and Services) Act that says the core biometric information collected will not be shared with anyone for any reason and used for any purpose other than generation of Aadhaar numbers and authentication. While identity information, other than core biometric information, may be shared as per the Act, a requesting entity -government or private -will not use it for any purpose other than what is specified to the individual, nor will it be shared further without the individual’s consent. “Any violation of the provision not only attracts penalty but also imprisonment,” said an official.

The source rejected the allegation that as many as 10 crore applicants had been rejected incorrectly as “duplicate“ identities. In fact the system seemed to be working as once biometrics are recorded they are not regenerated again. There can be a case of numbers not being orrectly delivered, but duplication was ruled out.