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Aadhaar Data Breach Report Incorrect: High Court

Citing the top court's judgement, the petitioner said that when the state violates the constitutional rights of a citizen, courts may award compensation

Aadhaar card
Aadhaar Card Logo. Wikimedia Commons

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that reports regarding security breach of data related to Aadhaar is incorrect and misleading as the strongest encryption technology has been used to store data which is impossible to decrypt.

“The technology used is 2048-bit encryption, which is the strongest one and it is impossible to decrypt and extract any information even if enrolment packets were accessible during transit to the UIDAI data centre,” UIDAI told a bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Prateek Jalan.

The bench was hearing a plea seeking exemplary damages for the losses caused due to leakage of Aadhaar data.

The plea was filed by Shamnad Basheer alleging that the dissemination of personal information of Aadhaar holders made it clear that the government is responsible for any breach of right to informational privacy.

E-Aadhaar card.

In an affidavit, the government agecy said that Aadhaar data is fully secured at all times and for further strengthening of security and privacy of data, security audits are conducted on regular basis, and all possible steps are taken to make the data safer and protected.

It further added that there are multiple layers of security at physical level in UIDAI data centres and is being managed by armed Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel round-the-clock.

“The technical architecture of Aadhaar has been structured in such a way, so as to ensure clear data verification, authentication and de-duplication, while ensuring a high level of privacy and information security,” the UIDAI said.

“UIDAI has taken all necessary safeguards, starting from providing standardised software that encrypts the entire data even before saving it to any disk; protecting data using tamper-proofing; identifying every operator in all and every enrolment; and identifying every one of the thousands of machines using an unique registration process, which ensures every encrypted data is tracked,” read the reply copy filed by the UIDAI.

Countering Basheer’s claim, the agency also said that the petitioner is trying to re-agitate the same issues which have attained finality before the Supreme Court and therefore the present petition deserves to be dismissed with costs.

Aadhaar Card. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

It said that the petition is based on a mere assumption that the general public is likely to be aggrieved.

“In the entire petition, there is not even a mention as to how the petitioner is aggrieved by the actions of the UIDAI and how his constitutional rights have been violated to entitle him to damages claimed by him,” the UIDAI said.

Adding that there is no merit in the application, UIDAI, in its reply, said: “The alleged facts (leakage of Aadhaar data) on the basis of which the petitioner has filed the plea are unsubstantiated statements and the information relating to the Aadhaar scheme has been grossly misreported and interpolated to mislead this court.

“The petitioner has pivoted his entire case around the misleading and unverified reports in the media regarding security breach of data related to Aadhaar, which is entirely denied as incorrect and misinformed.”

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The agency requested the court to dismiss the plea with cost as the petitioner has no locus standi to file this application.

The petitioner has said his constitutional rights have been violated due to the negligence of UIDAI.

Citing the top court’s judgement, the petitioner said that when the state violates the constitutional rights of a citizen, courts may award compensation.

Basheer has also requested the court to appoint an independent committee comprising multiple experts to investigate the scope, extent of breaches and the magnitude of harm caused due to data leak. (IANS)

Next Story

UIDAI Withdraws Tender for Social Media Monitoring Agency

After several hearings on the matter, the UIDAI on Tuesday told the court the tender has expired and it has no plans of reviving the tender or floating a similar tender

Aadhaar, Identity, Social Media SC, Order
Logo of Aadhaar Card Reading application. Aadhar card is provided by India Government. Wikimedia Commons

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) told the Supreme Court on Tuesday it has withdrawn the controversial tender seeking to invite bids for a social media monitoring agency to deal with misconceptions about Aadhaar.

The authority contended before Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph that it will not float another tender in the future. Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra had moved the apex court challenging the UIDAI’s decision and terming it an utter violation of right to digital privacy.

In July 2018, the authority had floated a tender inviting bids for an agency with technical capability to monitor and track online conversations. This agency would have done a sentiment analysis of all such conversations and flagged any discrepancy in sentiments and worked out and neutralised negative sentiments.

The authority claimed the utility of this monitoring agency would help in gauging public sentiment in connection with Aadhaar and also assist in sorting out misconceptions, often resulting in misgivings, with the unique identification project.

Aadhaar card
Aadhaar Card Logo. Wikimedia Commons

Moitra, in the petition filed through Nizam Pasha, claimed the process of engaging a social media monitoring agency is a tool aimed at social media surveillance. “This is just another social media surveillance centre by another name,” she said in the petition.

The Centre withdrew the tender floated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting after it was challenged before the apex court in another PIL filed by Moitra.

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Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing with advocates Pasha and Ranjeeta Rohatgi, requested that the statements made by UIDAI be recorded in the order and the PIL was disposed off in terms of the statement. This is the second occasion when the Centre has backtracked on its plans of social media surveillance in PILs filed by Moitra.

After several hearings on the matter, the UIDAI on Tuesday told the court the tender has expired and it has no plans of reviving the tender or floating a similar tender. (IANS)