Aadhaar should be linked to voting ID, commissioner says as Supreme Court hears constitutional challenge

Aadhaar numbers should be linked to Indian voter’s identity cards in order to verify individuals’ identity prior to voting, India’s new chief election commissioner told the Economic Times.

“Biometrics should establish the identity before a voter enters a polling booth and gets access to an EVM (electronic voting machine),” commissioner Om Prakash Rawat said. “The identification will then be foolproof. I, however, don’t want any change in EVMs to integrate this feature. The EVM must remain a standalone machine with no connection to any other device or to the Internet.”

The comments come as India’s Supreme Court hears arguments about the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar program. Critics have argued that the government cannot ensure the integrity of the personal data collected under the program, due to a lack of control over private entities accessing it, the Times reports.

A panel of five judges making up the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is hearing arguments related to several petitions challenging the legality of Aadhaar. The grounds for challenges include concerns about the privacy of the system, the lack of consent for data collection, and the use of a “probabilistic” algorithm for identity authentication.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan presented petitioner’s arguments to the court. “Aadhaar acts as bridge between silos of information and helps profiling,” he said, according to the Indian Express.

Justices established in questions to Divan that the complaints did not apply to collection of biometric data for uses like access control, but rather to the control and centralized storage of that data. The hearings are ongoing.

As previously reported, the UIDAI recently added temporary IDs to the Aadhaar system to enhance its privacy protection, following a number of controversies and alleged breaches.

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