UIDAI reiterates its stand on Aadhaar in Twitter Q&A; claims it’s Only an identification tool

The UIDAI today sought to allay fears over data security and privacy issues across the 12 digit biometric identifier, claiming that Aadhaar is a diagnosis not a profiling tool.

It also emphasized that Aadhaar information is regulated by powerful laws.

Representational image. News18Representational image. News18

Fielding questions on Twitter in a live chat, Particular Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that Aadhaar is based on minimum information and biometrics which is “least intrusive”.

To a specific query on whether UIDAI will opt for DNA profiling in future, Pandey said that there were no such plans.

“We shoot fingerprint, IrisBSE 1.80 percent and photograph. . .We don’t have any plans to take something like DNA… photo, fingerprint and Iris is great enough for de-duplication, generating Aadhaar and also to authenticate any person,” he said.

The UIDAI chief dismissed worries that linking of various information with Aadhaar could cause government tracking, surveillance or possible abuse.

“When you give Aadhaar amount in lender… UIDAI does not know about your bank account. Bank gives us your Aadhaar fingerprint and number and UIDAI is a fitting support. It says a no or yes, or we ship a limited eKYC,” he explained. The government does not get any information regarding the resident out of the machine, ” he explained. UIDAI additionally tweeted, “Aadhaar is an identifier not a profiling tool”. During the question and answer session which lasted for over 1.5 hours, Pandey took over 20 queries that ranged from privacy issues around Aadhaar to benefits of the biometric identifier for taxpayers, and from linking of Aadhaar to mobile SIMs (subscriber identity module) to transferring the enrolment centres to government offices and banks.

To another question, he explained bank accounts are “land of citizens” and their linkage using Aadhaar number shouldn’t raise fears that government will one day freeze such accounts.

Maintaining that debut of digital ID and limited eKYC had nothing to do with info leak stories pertaining to Aadhaar, Pandey stated that they had been conceptualised for strengthening the privacy system.

The UIDAI recently declared a new idea of “Virtual ID’ which Aadhaar-card holder can create from its website and provide for a variety of purposes, including SIM verification, instead of sharing the actual 12-digit biometric ID. Throughout the live chat today, Pandey said that since some people feared that data residing in multiple areas could be connected despite it being prohibited under Aadhaar Act, the latest feature provides people the choice to mask their Aadhaar number. “It doesn’t have anything to do with information leak story. I have said that from the previous seven years, there has been no data flow from UIDAI,” he explained.

Pandey said that Aadhaar has been protected by strong laws, and that Aadhaar Act is “based on the premise that privacy is a basic right”.

Citing the many Sections of Aadhaar Act he stated that biometric data given to UIDAI cannot be shared with no individual’s consent, and that doing so is punishable.

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