“This ruling comes a little over a year after the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer that privacy is a fundamental right of Indian citizens…”
India’s Supreme Court has issued a new ruling that seeks to limit the reach of Aadhaar, the country’s ambitious biometric national ID program.
According to a new Reuters report, the ruling essentially restricted the government’s use of Aadhaar to the distribution of social subsidies and welfare schemes, asserting that Aadhaar-based authentication could not be made compulsory for things like opening bank accounts and signing up for a new mobile phone.
It was a four-to-one ruling, with a dissenting judge issuing a more fundamental challenge to Aadhaar, which he called a “fraud on the constitution”. The majority judges, meanwhile, explained that Aadhaar offered too many benefits to be struck down wholesale.
It isn’t yet clear what this ruling will mean for Aadhaar in practical terms. It appears that government authorities can still adhere to the letter of the law by asking for Aadhaar authentication across a range of services while offering alternative means of authentication for those who do not wish to use Aadhaar. If that is the case, there is no reason to think that Aadhaar’s ongoing expansion across Indian society will cease.
This ruling comes a little over a year after the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer that privacy is a fundamental right of Indian citizens, which many observers had perceived as a strike against the government’s pervasive biometric ID program.
September 26, 2018 – by Alex Perala