Aadhaar based on flawed technology, prone to data breach, SC told

5-judge Constitution Bench to begin hearing of petitions against Aadhaar on Jan 17

 

It has given rise to “surveillance, breach of privacy and identify theft of individuals”, says petitioner.

 

Almost ten days before a 5 constitution judge bench of the Supreme Court of India begins final hearing in the Aadhaar case, an affidavit has been filed in the top court assailing the government’s 12 digit biometric identification project.

The affidavit filed by writer Kalyani Shankar Menon, one of the petitioners in the case, relies on affidavits of experts in the field of food security, data protection and RTI replies to make out a case that Aadhar is based on flawed technology and is leading to enormous data breaches.

 

“Reports by privacy and security researchers indicate that such breaches have already affected 135 million Indians. These data breaches are in flagrant violation of Section 29 of the Aadhaar Act read with Regulations 6 and 7 of the Aadhaar (Sharing of Information) Regulations, 2016,” writer-activist Kalyani Shankar Menon said in her rejoinder affidavit. 

 

Filed ahead of the January 17 Constitution Bench hearing of petitions challenging the validity of the Aadhaar Act, the affidavit cited research done by various experts and RTI replies to suggest that the scheme was flawed.“It is submitted that Aadhaar is an insecure, unreliable, unnecessary and inappropriate technology project which is being foisted with coercion on the most vulnerable section of Indians and is threatening their constitutional and legal rights and entitlements every day,” the affidavit read.. It gives rise to surveillance, breach of privacy and identity theft of individuals and is in violation of their rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.’

Attacking government contention that Aadhaar will go a long way in prevention duplication of PAN cards, the affidavit states that the problem of PAN duplication has been overstated. There are only 10.52 lakh duplicate PANs among PANs given out to nearly 29 crore individuals. This works out to less than 0.4% and the necessity of putting the entire population of the country through the process of Aadhaar, even as there are other mechanisms which are already underway for detecting duplicate PANs.

Menon submitted that it gave rise to “surveillance, breach of privacy and identify theft of individuals” in violation of their right to equality, right to freedom and right to privacy.The Supreme Court had on December 15 extended the deadline for linking of Aadhaar for all services and schemes, including mobile phone numbers, to March 31 next year.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had said the deadline for Aadhaar-linking of mobile phone numbers stood extended from February 6, 2018 to March 31, 2018.The order extending the deadline for linking of Aadhaar shall also be applicable to all state governments, besides the Central government and its departments, the top court had said.

While choosing not to stay the government’s orders and notifications on Aadhaar, it had fixed January 17 for final Constitution Bench hearing to decide the petitions challenging the validity of Aadhaar Act and related notifications.

The December interim order had come on pleas for stay on various notifications issued by the government making Aadhaar-linking mandatory with 139 various services and schemes.

 Affidavit also alleges that the government insistence of ‘seeding’ or practice of incorporating the Aadhaar number into several databases furthers the risk of identity theft.

The affidavit also highlights the failure of Aadhaar related biometric authentications because electricity or internet related failures or because machines are unable to read / scan biometrics correctly. “As per the Economic Survey 2016-17, these authentication failures are as high as 49% in some states,” the affidavit says.

 

 

source- HT and tribune

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