NEW DELHI: More than 200 government websites, including educational institutes, have published names of beneficiaries of welfare schemes with their addresses and Aadhaar numbers, the Centre conceded on Wednesday even as the Supreme Court began hearings on the issue of right to privacy.
In a written response to a question in Parliament, PP Chaudhary, minister of state for electronics and IT, however, said, “There has been no leakage of Aadhaar data from UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India).”
Around 210 websites of central and state government departments including educational institutes were “displaying the list of beneficiaries along with their name, address, other details and Aadhaar numbers for information of general public”, he said.
UIDAI is regularly monitoring the status to get the Aadhaar data removed from the said websites, Chaudhary said. UIDAI chief executive AB Pandey said the issue came to the notice of the authorities in March.
“Some ministries were publishing this data in compliance with the Right to the Information Act which says that list of beneficiaries should be public so that citizens know that where the government money has been spent,” he told ET.
“They were also publishing Aadhaar numbers and bank accounts details but in March we told them not to publish such details and they have complied with it.” It is unclear whether the data has been completely removed from the websites or if it is still work in progress.
The clarification has come on a day when a nine-member Supreme Court started hearings to examine whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right of a citizen or not — an issue that would likely have a great bearing on the Centre’s moves to link Aadhaar number with most government initiatives.
On Wednesday IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted that 530 social welfare schemes from 63 ministries and 1,200 schemes from 75 ministries are linked to Aadhaar.
ET reported in April that the government ordered central departments and states to ensure that the Aadhaar numbers of people and their bank account details are not published anywhere, including online platforms, and any such information available in the public domain must be taken down immediately.
In June, the department of personnel and training (DoPT), the nodal agency for matters related to the Right to Information (RTI) Act, also asked central government departments not to share personal details, including Aadhaar numbers of RTI applicants.