Aadhaar opponents argue that sharing biometric information with third parties is unsafe

The bone of contention is the parting of sensitive biometric data with third parties over which the government or UIDAI has little to no control.

In the on-going Aadhaar hearing in the Supreme Court, the critics of Aadhaar have argued against the collection of biometric information.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The bone of contention is the parting of sensitive biometric data with third parties, over which the government or even the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) have little control.

According to senior advocate, Shyam Divan, who is arguing on the side of the Aadhaar opponents, the government does not have a contract with the third parties who collect your biometric information. This increases the possibility of the misuse of this sensitive data by these entities, said the lawyer, who questioned the integrity of this data.

Divan also told the five-judge bench that according to a government statement in the Parliament, the UIDAI had blacklisted 34,000 operators for issuing false Aadhaar cards.

The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, "You want an insurance policy, you go to a private company. You want mobile connection, you go to private entities and part with personal information... Here the government has multiplied the options... the moment the government asks you to give proof of address and other details, you have a problem and you say 'sorry'."

To this Divan responded by saying that there is no issue with an individual parting with information out of his or her own accord. "The point here is that you are being asked to part with information to someone you do not know and have no contractual relation with," said Divan.

The bench, also comprising Justice A K Sikri, Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan, is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the government's flagship Aadhaar programme and its enabling Act of 2016.

Divan, who is representing petitioners like former Karnataka High Court judge Justice K S Puttaswamy, several activists Aruna Roy, Shantha Sinha and veteran CPI(M) leader V S Achuthanandan, submitted that the State cannot compel its citizens to give personal information, that too to a private company, as it violated their fundamental rights.

Terming the scheme as "unconstitutional from beginning to end", Divan said that initially the State was not authorised to compel the citizens to part with personal information and moreover, it became more troublesome when people were asked to share them with private firms.

(With inputs from PTI)

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