On May 5, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) informed the Delhi High Court that incidental fingerprints registered for issuing Aadhaar card cannot be used to identify criminals or sub-trial. Furthermore, the Authority asserted that data collected under the Aadhaar card cannot be shared with investigative agencies for biometric purposes. The data collected by Aadhaar can no longer be used for any purpose other than the generation of a citizen’s UIADI.
The data collected by Aadhaar cannot be used for any purpose other than the generation of UIADI
“Undoubtedly, the respondent cannot share an individual’s biometric identity with other agencies/persons, however, the issue in this petition is whether the Aadhar Act of 2016 allows the respondent to inform an investigative agency whether random prints and photographs retrieved by it from the location of the event match a person’s biometrics in the data and provide details regarding their identity,” the submissions read. of the UIDAI before the Court.
He further contended that Aadhaar is only proof that the person presenting the card identifies himself based on the Aadhaar number and that it is the same person registered in Aadhaar with the biometric information and demographics at the time of issue.
Fingerprint data collected for Aadhaar cannot be used to identify criminals or solve crimes
The UIDAI submissions implied that Aadhaar had been listed to assign unique identity numbers to individuals, but “not for forensic or other purposes”. While stating that there is no possibility of duplicating Aadhaar due to biometrics, UIDAI stated that sharing or using random fingerprints for other purposes other than generating the Aadhaar number and authentication, is ‘prohibited’ under the Aadhaar Act 2016.
The law, according to the UIDAI, “provides several safeguards in the form of information security and confidentiality, restrictions on information sharing, disclosure of certain information, and offenses and penalties for violations of law or regulations”.
A person’s biometrics are sensitive information and must be protected: UIDAI
Biometric information is unique to an individual and is therefore sensitive information and must be protected to thwart any possibility of misuse. As evident from the above-mentioned provisions, sharing of biometric information or use of biometric information for purposes other than generation of Aadhaar number and authentication under Aadhaar law is prohibited, UIDAI noted.
The Authority further stated, “…no Aadhaar data may be shared by any individual or entity with any individual or entity without the consent of the resident.”
In the case under investigation, Delhi Police say an owner of an HR jewelers jewelry store in Adarsh Nagar was murdered by unidentified persons and three years later in June 2021 incidental fingerprints taken on site had been sent to the forensic department but no match was identified in the database. Therefore, he argued that since the defendants were neither located nor traceable, the intervention of the UIDAI was requested.
However, the Court ruled that fingerprint matching without mentioning the Aadhar card is not feasible and “even the system cannot respond to it”.