UIDAI tells Supreme Court it’s impossible to track citizens using Aadhaar
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the governing agency in charge of Aadhaar, told India’s Supreme Court that it is nearly impossible to use Aadhaar to track citizens, according to a report by NDTV.
The agency said there were several measures implemented in the law and its systems to ensure that the government could not use Aadhaar for surveillance purposes even if it were deemed legal.
The agency also suggested that too much was being made of privacy being a fundamental right.
“Nothing is private in the online era,” Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a nine-judge constitution bench.
For the past couple weeks, India’s Supreme Court has been hearing from multiple petitions challenging the legality of the Aadhaar project to determine whether citizens are entitled to privacy as a fundamental right.
If the court rules that privacy is, in fact, a fundamental right, it could have a huge impact on the future of Aadhaar, as well as the UIDAI.
The central government also told the top court that a 10-member expert committee led by retired Supreme Court judge Justice BN Srikrishna had been established to recommend a draft bill on data protection.
The UIDAI was initially created to issue Aadhaar numbers in 2009. However, since parliament was unable to pass the law to provide legal backing for the unique identification number, the agency made the executive decision to collect personal data about citizens.
Since then, there have been several petitions persuading the top court to cease the collection of private information from citizens.
Parliament finally passed the law last year, but not before it contested ongoing claims that privacy was a fundamental right.
Since two courts had previously differed in their rulings, the Supreme Court created the nine-judge bench to make a definitive ruling.
The UIDAI, along with the central government and some state governments, has said that while privacy is protected under the Aadhaar law, it is not considered a constitutional right and should not be upgraded to a fundamental right.