Aadhaar privacy row: SC raps govt as 134,000 Indians’ data leaked
Aadhaar privacy row: On reasonable grounds, the benefits that Aadhaar offers to citizens are immense. But the actual costs stem from the possible misuse of Aadhaar data. Despite a robust legislation on data protection by UIDAI, Aadhaar numbers and bank details of over 134,000 beneficiaries on Andhra Pradesh Housing Corporation’s website have been leaked. The Andhra Pradesh government’s cyber security researcher Kodali Srinivas has revealed how a state-run agency has disclosed the Aadhaar data, bank accounts information with IFSC codes, caste and religion besides geo-location of 134,000 beneficiaries of housing schemes. The leaked details have now been taken off the website.Even after repeated claims by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that Aadhaar data can never be used for surveillance or to track religious and caste information, this new data leak of sensitive information is likely to bring the authenticity of the nodal agency’s regulations on data protection under question.
The latest Aadhaar data breach took place just a day after Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated the Andhra Pradesh Cyber Security Operations Centre (APCSOC).The Andhra Pradesh government has used Aadhaar to build profiles of their housing beneficiaries. All of this information is in public domain and it could be misused by political parties for voter profiling, reported Free Press Journal.According to an NDTV report, the Andhra Pradesh government said that it adhered to the rules and regulations of the Aadhaar Act, 2016. The leaked data were part of a list titled ‘Beneficiary Details belonging to Entry Report for Scheme Hudhud’ on the housing website. “We are investigating this report and once we understand the full situation we will update you,” the government said.Under the Aadhaar law, strict provisions determine how the biometric data collected by the UIDAI can be used. In fact, the country’s nodal agency for data protection needs to bring in tough legislation to prevent other governmental departments from collecting and misusing the database.Here are the top 10 developments on the latest Aadhaar data breach, challenges to its authenticity and privacy issues:
1. Aadhaar data leak of over 134,000 beneficiaries: Andhra Pradesh Housing Corporation’s website has allegedly disclosed personal information and bank details of about 134,000 people with several private agencies. An independent cybersecurity researcher Kodali Srinivas brought to light the latest Aadhaar leak case and informed the UIDAI and government officials. The concerned Aadhaar users are anxious over the safety of their leaked data and that eventually the hackers would get their hands on the information and can misuse them. Srinivas told the New Indian Express that he had not hacked the website, but the Aadhaar details were already publicly-available for anyone to see and download. The leaked data can be prone to the misuse by hackers and corporations, especially for voter profiling by the political parties.
Dwivedi said the direction to seed mobile with Aadhaar was taken in pursuance of TRAI’s recommendation. Besides, the government was entitled and had legitimate state interest to ensure that a sim card is given to only those who applied, he said, seeking to allay apprehensions that the State would will surveil the people 24×7.”My submission is that the government had a legal basis to link Aadhaar with SIM by virtue of section 4 of the Telegraph Act and also, the measure is reasonable in the interest ofnational security,” the lawyer stressed.Dwivedi, at the outset, alleged that the Aadhaar scheme was being unfairly targeted as nobody was questioning the banks and the telecom firms on a collection of information.