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Biometric data for Aadhaar can’t be used to identify criminals: UIDAI to Delhi HC

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has informed the Delhi High Court that biometric data collected for Aadhaar cannot be used to identify criminals or solve crimes and that sharing or use of biometric information for any purpose other than the generation of the Aadhaar number and authentication is ‘impermissible’ under the Aadhaar Act, 2016.

After the prosecution requested that some biometric data acquired at the scene be linked with the Aadhaar database, the UIDAI responded to a court enquiry in connection with a 2018 robbery and murder at a diamond shop in Delhi.

In response, UIDAI stated that it does not collect biometric data appropriate for forensic reasons for any investigating agency and that using biometric data for random matching purposes of the accused may not be technologically viable.

‘The technological architecture of UIDAI or its mandate for Aadhaar-based authentication does not allow for any instance of 1: N matching where fingerprints, including latent and chance finger prints, are matched against the other finger prints in the UIDAI database, except for generation of Aadhaar number where the biometric information has been collected in accordance with the technically laid down procedure’, UIDAI said.

The petitions, according to UIDAI, were not only in violation of the Aadhaar Act’s mandate but also the decision of the Supreme Court’s five-judge Constitution bench in the KS Puttaswamy case, which annulled the Bombay high court’s directives for utilising Aadhaar for forensic reasons.

‘…it was held that no core biometric information which includes thumb impressions can be directed to be shared with anyone whatsoever or used for any purpose other than that permitted in the Aadhaar Act’, UIDAI said in its reply.