Aadhaar Data "Gold Mine" For Misuse: Supreme Court Cites Facebook Breach

The Supreme Court has said Aadhaar data can be used for commercial purposes.

New Delhi:  There is a chance that Aadhaar data of 1.3 billion Indians can be misused, the Supreme Court said today, citing the illegal use of Facebook data by disgraced British firm Cambridge Analytica. A clutch of 27 petitions the court was hearing challenge the validity of the 12-digit unique identification number and question data safety -- a matter hotly contested by Aadhaar authority UIADI and the government.

"We are dealing with information of 1.3 billion people, who may be poor. But it is a gold mine for commercial purposes," said Justice  DY Chandrachud, who was part of the five-judge bench hearing the crucial case on the government's ambitious project.

The Facebook data misuse which became public recently, snowballed into a hot button political issue in India, with the Congress and the BJP accusing each other of data fraud during elections. It brought down Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who had to "make a statement before the US Congress," the judge said.

"Even little things we disclose while collecting data can be misused... We are in a world of surveillance," Justice Chandrachud said, referring to the psychological profiling that was done through basic information of users and was instrumental in helping Donald Trump during the Presidential elections in the US.  

Commercial surveillance, the judge said, happened more frequently and relentlessly. "Requesting entity can share information further as per law with consent," he added.

Aadhaar authority UIADI tried to assure the court that its data was safe, saying the laws protecting data here are more "stringent then the European laws".

Taking up the UIADI on its claims of adequate protection, the court has asked the Aadhaar authority to share safety details during the next hearing on Tuesday.

Last week, the Supreme Court had questioned the necessity of the government's move to make Aadhaar necessary for every transaction.

"You (the centre) want Aadhaar for each and every activity.  You have issued 144 notifications. Why do you need cellphone linked to Aadhaar? You consider every individual as a terrorist or violator?" Justice AK Sikri had asked.