The agency that manages the biometrics for Aadhaar cards on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it was “technically impossible” to use the data to spy on people who have enrolled in the unique identification programme. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Unique Identity Development Authority of India said several safeguards have been built into the Aadhaar law to avoid surveillance, which critics fear the government will be in a position to do as more necessities are linked to the project .

A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments on whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right. The outcome is likely to determine whether Aadhaar can be made mandatory for access to government schemes.

On Tuesday, Mehta also told the court that questions on privacy were moot in the 21st century as “nothing is private in the online era.” The Centre has set up an expert committee headed by former Justice BN Srikrishna to draft a Bill on data protection, he added, according to NDTV.

The Centre has in the past argued in the Supreme Court that citizens do not have a fundamental right to privacy.