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Mammoth task to audit, erase Aadhaar data with private firms: Experts

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New Delhi, Sep 26: Terming the Supreme Court verdict on Aadhaar a breath of fresh air for Indian citizens, experts on Wednesday said a completely new regime has to be put in place to protect the Aadhaar data that is lying with private companies.

Stating that private entities or individuals cannot avail Aadhaar data to provide consumer services, the apex court struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act which allowed sharing of data with private entities.

It means that telecom companies, e-commerce firms and private banks cannot ask for biometric and other data from consumers to provide their services.

“The Aadhaar verdict is a huge sigh of relief for citizens. The humongous task now is to ensure that the data that is already with private companies is not misused or sold,” Pavan Duggal, the nation’s leading cyber law expert, told IANS.

“The data now needs to be dismantled but the onus is to make sure companies do not make copies of the data and use it to monetise their operations. The big question is which agency will audit this humongous task,” added Duggal, also a leading Supreme Court lawyer.

The apex court also said that Aadhaar data can’t be shared with security agencies in the name of upholding national security and individuals too can complain about theft of their Aadhaar data.

“Private companies played a big gamble of integrating Aaddhar data with their systems wherein they spent a lot of money. The whole exercise is now futile and the country now needs a fresh Aadhaar ecosystem,” Duggal noted.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), said Duggal, had already lodged more than 50 FIRs against private companies for Aadhaar data breach.

“Today’s judgment as read out in court signals massive changes in the Aadhaar project and the Act. The legitimacy of its stated purposes is destroyed. Even the majority signals significant concern by reading down portions,” tweeted New Delhi-based lawyer Apar Gupta.

Although experts are yet to read the verdict in fine print, they said the Supreme Court’s directive to Centre to bring a robust data protection law is the need of the hour.

“The Aadhaar data is saved in data centres outside the boundaries and law of our country. There is an urgent need for addressing newly emerging legal and cyber security challenges concerning Aadhaar ecosystem on an urgent basis,” Duggal said.

The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment last year, declared privacy a fundamental right. This set the government in motion to take steps to bring a new data protection legislation for the country.

The Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee submitted the Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 in July, suggesting amendments to the Aadhaar Act to provide for imposition of penalties on data fiduciaries and compensations to data principals for violations of the data protection law.

The 213-page report suggested amendments to the Aadhaar Act from a data protection perspective.

According to Duggal, “not just cosmetic changes, there is an urgent need for addressing newly emerging legal and cyber security challenges concerning Aadhaar ecosystem on an urgent basis”.

Supratim Chakraborty, Associate Partner at law firm Khaitan & Co, said the verdict that private parties cannot have access to individuals’ data was a double-edged thing.

“From a socialistic perspective and individualistic perspective, you need to have proper safeguards as to how your information is being used by a private party.

“However, from a business perspective, it could increase their expenses if they need to collect too much information one by one from an individual. It compels us to ponder whether there is a correct way to do business while protecting the privacy of users,” Chakraborty told IANS.

In Europe, as part of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into force from May 25, EU citizens at any point may object to an organisation’s handling of their personal data.

The regulation specifically names “direct marketing and profiling” as personal data uses to which individuals may object.

According to Duggal, India should not cut-paste any other country’s law and must strive for data localisation.

“There is a need for more comprehensive legal frameworks to protect and preserve data and privacy of individual Aadhaar account holders in specific and the Aadhaar ecosystem stakeholders in general,” Duggal noted.

IANS

India

India reports 86,052 new Covid cases

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Coronavirus India

With 86,052 new cases in the last 24 hours, India’s coronavirus cases are nearing six million-mark, according to the health ministry updates shared on Friday.

There were 1,141 fatalities also confirmed in the 24 hour-period bringing the death toll to 92,290. The total infections stand at  5,818,571, including 9,70,116 active cases and 4,756,165 people getting cured/discharged/migrated. 

India’s Covid-19 recovery rate stands at 81.74 per cent and the mortality rate remains below 1.6 per cent, according to government figures. 

In a positive development, Wednesday was the sixth consecutive day when the number of people recovered in the country was more than the total number of cases detected in the 24-hours period. 

In the last few days, India has seen a significant drop in daily cases, but there needs to be more evidence to suggest whether the nation has surpassed the virus’s peak or not. 

Maharashtra continues to be India’s worst-hit state with nearly 300,000 active cases and a death toll of 34,345. 

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said he had been told by experts that the second wave of Covid-19 in the national capital has peaked. 

Globally, the United States is the worst-hit country with over 7 million cases and 200,000 deaths. 
 


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ECI set to announce Bihar election dates on Friday

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New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) The Election Commission of India is set to announce the dates for the Bihar Assembly polls on Friday, official sources said.

A press conference is scheduled to be held at 12.30 pm at the Vigyan Bhavan in this regard, the EC spokesperson Sheyphali Saran said.

Due to Covid protocols, only journalists accredited with the PIB would be allowed to attend the presser.

Bihar has 243 Assembly seats. In 2015, the alliance of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal-United and the Congress had swept the polls but JD-U has since aligned with the BJP.

Earlier this month, the EC said that the Assembly elections will be completed before November 29, the date on which the tenure of the present Assembly ends.

The EC also said that by-elections to 65 seats in different states will also be held simultaneously.

The EC has already issued the guidelines to all political parties to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The candidates will file nomination papers and deposit security money online. Facial masks, hand sanitisers, social distancing norms would be mandatory during political campaigning or at rallies.

Earlier, the EC had asked political parties for their opinions on the conduct of Assemblly elections.

The RJD, LJP and some others had suggested postponement of the electoral battle until the coronavirus pandemic was over. However, the ruling JD-U, BJP and others wanted the elections to be completed before the Assembly’s term ended.

–IANS

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2 terrorists killed in Kashmir encounter

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Jammu and Kashmir Shopian Indian Army

Security forces and terrorists have engaged in a massive encounter in Sirhama in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district. As per preliminary reports, heavy exchange of fire has been reported from the area where the encounter broke out last night.

The Kashmir Zone Police has said that two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists have been killed in the encounter.

“Incriminating material, including arms and ammunition, have been recovered. A search operation is currently underway,” the police said.

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