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

Additionally, it stressed that Aadhaar data is governed by strong laws.

Representational image. News18Representational picture. News18

To a specific question on whether UIDAI will opt for DNA profiling later on, Pandey stated that there were no such plans.

“We shoot fingerprint, IrisBSE 1.80 % and photograph. . .We have no plans to choose something such as DNA… photo, fingerprint and Iris is good enough for de-duplication, generating Aadhaar and to authenticate any person,” he explained.

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

“When you give Aadhaar amount in lender… UIDAI doesn’t understand about your bank accounts. Bank provides us your Aadhaar number and fingerprint and UIDAI is a matching support. It states a yes or no, or we send a restricted eKYC,” he clarified. The government doesn’t receive any information about the resident from the machine, ” he said. During the question and answer session that lasted for over 1.5 hours, Pandey took over 20 queries that ranged from privacy concerns around Aadhaar to benefits of their biometric identifier for residents, and from linking of Aadhaar to mobile SIMs (subscriber identity module) to transferring the enrolment centres to government offices and banks.

To another query, he said bank accounts are “property of citizens” and their linkage using Aadhaar number shouldn’t raise fears that authorities will one day freeze these accounts.

Maintaining that debut of Virtual ID and restricted eKYC had nothing to do with info flow stories pertaining to Aadhaar, Pandey stated they were conceptualised for strengthening the privacy system.

The UIDAI recently declared a new concept of “Virtual ID’ which Aadhaar-card holder could generate from its website and give for various purposes, such as SIM verification, instead of sharing the actual 12-digit biometric ID. The Virtual ID, a random 16-digit number, will give the users the option of not sharing their Aadhaar number at the time of authentication. Throughout the live chat today, Pandey said that considering that some people feared that information residing in several areas could be linked despite it being illegal under Aadhaar Act, the most recent feature will give people the decision to conceal their Aadhaar number. “It doesn’t have anything to do with data leak story. I’ve said that from the previous seven decades, there’s been no data leak from UIDAI,” he explained.

Pandey said that Aadhaar was protected by strong laws, which Aadhaar Act is “predicated on the premise that solitude is a basic right”.

Citing the many Sections of Aadhaar Act he said that biometric information given to UIDAI cannot be shared with no individual’s consent, and that doing so is punishable. “No one can aggregate data and perform profiling,” he pointed out.