The UIDAI today said it does not have information about bank accounts, health records, or financial and property details of Aadhaar holders, and “will never have” such details in its database.
The Aadhaar-issuing body said that its database contains only minimum details of the biometric ID holders, including select demographic information.
Seeking to dispel any possible misgivings about UIDAI ever tracking activities of individuals with the data it has, the authority said, “rest assured, UIDAI does not have your information about bank accounts, shares, mutual funds, financial and property details, health records, family, caste, religion and education etc and will never have this information in its database”.
In a public outreach, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issued detailed FAQs or Frequently Asked Questions in national dailies, where it addressed about a dozen queries pertaining to concerns over data safety, profiling, and Aadhaar’s link with bank accounts and mobile numbers.
Citing the Aadhaar Act, UIDAI said that its provisions specifically prohibit it from controlling, collecting, keeping or maintaining any information about the purpose of authentication either on its own or through any entity.
“Aadhaar is an identifier, not a profiling tool,” it reiterated.
The move comes at a time when the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the Aadhaar Act and the use of biometric identifier in various government and non-government services.
UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey last month made a presentation in the Supreme Court to defend the government’s ambitious Aadhaar scheme.
UIDAI further said that it uses “advanced security technologies” to safeguard data and also keeps upgrading them to meet new security threats and challenges.
Stating that Aadhaar has armed the common man with a credible identity, UIDAI claimed that the 12-digit biometric identifier today “inspires more confidence and trust than any other identity document in India”.
It has also clarified that denial of services for lack of Aadhaar or failure of verification for technical reasons, should immediately be brought to the notice of the higher authorities in the departments concerned, and termed denials of such nature as “unlawful”.
The UIDAI said that linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts would help weed out accounts being operated by fraudsters, criminals and money launderers.
Moreover, it would benefit the Aadhaar holder directly as a verified bank account would lead to secure banking, and prevent frauds.
It went on to argue that Aadhaar number alone does not make it possible for someone to hack an account and said the “bank account is safe if you dont part with your PIN/OTP (One Time password) given by banks”.
Similarly, it said that verification of mobile numbers with the biometric identifier would help weed out numbers that are being operated by fraudsters, and criminals.
“It has been found that most criminals and terrorists get SIM cards issued in fictitious name and even real people without their knowledge and use them in committing frauds and crime,” UIDAI said.