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How UIDAI chief’s powerpoint presentation swayed SC in Aadhaar verdict

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New Delhi, Sep 27: The Supreme Court, which on Wednesday declared the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid, extensively relied up on a power-point presentation made by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey to conclude that the scheme was safe.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Ajay Bhushan Pandey

Bhushan had on March 22 got a unique opportunity to make a PowerPoint presentation in the court to defend the government's ambitious scheme.

Aadhaar constitutionally valid, but banks, mobile companies can't ask for it says SC

The bench said the Centre and the UIDAI had "rightly pointed out" that there were sufficient safeguard mechanisms for data protection.

"After going through the Aadhaar structure, as demonstrated by the respondents in the power-point presentation from the provisions of the Aadhaar Act and the machinery which the Authority has created for data protection, we are of the view that it is very difficult to create profile of a person simply on the basis of biometric and demographic information stored in CIDR.

"Insofar as authentication is concerned, the respondents rightly pointed out that there are sufficient safeguard mechanisms," Justice A K Sikri, who penned the majority judgement on behalf of Chief justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar, said.

Aadhaar verdict: A timeline of events leading up to SC ruling today

The court said on the basis of the presentation given by the CEO of UIDAI, and the arguments of both the sides, including the questions put by the petitioners to the UIDAI CEO, and the answers to them, it has come to the conclusion that minimal possible data, demographic and biometric, is obtained from the Aadhaar holders.

The bench also noted that there were sufficient security technologies for round-the-clock monitoring, data leak prevention so that "the authentication process is not exposed to the internet world".

"To recapitulate, it was specifically submitted that there was security technologies in place (slide 28 of Pandey's presentation), 24/7 security monitoring, data leak prevention, vulnerability management programme and independent audits (slide 29) as well as the Authority's defence mechanism (slide 30)," the bench said.

Aadhaar Infographic

Pandey, a 1984-batch IAS officer of Maharashtra cadre heading UIDAI since 2010, had allayed concerns about data security and said the Aadhaar data was protected by a 2048-bit encryption and "once biometrics comes to us, it will never go away".

Making use of two projectors in the courtroom, he had claimed that breaking the Aadhaar encryption may take "more than the age of the universe for the fastest computer on earth".

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