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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

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Aadhaar Card Logo. Image Source: 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

Demonetisation, Aadhaar Spurred Digital Payments Growth: RBI

Pointing to a major area for improvement, the study showed that only three per cent of the population in India used the Internet to pay utility bills in 2017

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long term impact on Real Estate
Demonetisation aided with RERA and GST will put long term impact on Real Estate. Pixabay.

After the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in 2016 pushed digital payments, Aadhaar-enabled electronic know your customer (eKYC) resulted in an exponential growth of such payments in the country, according to a new report by the Reserve Bank of India.

Transactions in which both the payer and the payee use digital modes to send and receive money are referred to as digital or electronic payments.

India recorded an accelerated growth rate of over 50 per cent in the volume of retail electronic payment transactions in the last four years, said the report titled “Benchmarking India’s Payment Systems”.

The growth in 2018-19 was largely due to the steep growth in Unified Payments Interface (UPI), it added.

“In India, the smartphone revolution has seen an explosion in digital payment options, from e-Money to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to a combination of the two. After demonetisation, the use of e-Money picked up on a very large scale,” the findings showed.

The digital landscape changed with higher usage of e-Money, UPI, Aadhaar Payments Bridge System (APBS), RuPay, and Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), among others.

With 3,459 million e-Money transactions, India was only behind Japan and the US (data on China not available) in 2017 with respect to volume of e-Money transactions, the report said.

The study revealed that over the years, the number of debit and credit cards also increased considerably in India.

Aadhaar Card Reader Logo. Source: Wikimedia

India had 331.60 million and 19.55 million debit and credit cards respectively at the end of 2012. The numbers grew to 861.7 million and 37.49 million respectively at the end of 2017.

By March 31, 2019, the number of debit and credit cards issued were 925 million and 47 million, respectively.

However, the study showed that the cost of digital transactions was a factor inhibiting their growth.

Merchants have to cash out or transfer to their banks accounts at a cost and at times these costs are passed on to the consumer.

“A few countries have tried to regulate costs to ensure that the charges are not usurious, but the jury is still out on whether such a regulation promotes the growth of digital payments. With banks pushing and merchants pulling, it isn’t clear if such caps will discourage the use of cash,” the report added.

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Pointing to a major area for improvement, the study showed that only three per cent of the population in India used the Internet to pay utility bills in 2017.

The report compared the payment ecosystem in India with the systems and usage trends in other major countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Britain and the US. (IANS)