Aadhaar in time of data theft scare:

While many activists advocate for UIDAI to be shut down to put an end to the debate, the call has had little success over the months.

Express News Service

COIMBATORE: The introduction of Aadhaar has not gone well with a large section of the masses, given the issue of privacy and date security.

The challenge put forth by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) Chief R S Sharma and the way it backfired only helped spread the apprehensions over Aadhaar and UIDAI’s (Unique Identification Authority of India) ability to hold sensitive information secure.

While many activists advocate for UIDAI to be shut down to put an end to the debate, the call has had little success over the months.

Usha Ramanathan, a Supreme Court lawyer, is a strong advocate of this idea. “The only solution to keep our identity and data safe is to scrap UIDAI,” she tells Express.

Explaining the mechanism behind Aadhaar, she explains that it will use three numbers — Jandhan Yojana (bank account number), Aadhar number and Mobile number (JAM) — to identify someone.

“As these three numbers are linked everywhere and is mandatory in the government system, our data has become insecure,” she claims. She points out that with this information, identity theft would become far more dangerous.

While the Supreme Court has stayed the government order making Aadhaar mandatory for many of its schemes, the Central government has ignored the order and made Aadhaar as the primary identification proof for a lot of services.

“After the court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right, the Centre asked what harm would come of (someone) having your data. They could not accept that creating such a vulnerable system itself was harmful enough and once someone had our information, then it is very easy to play around with it,” she says, citing several incidents of creating bank accounts and fake insurance policies, without even the consent of the person concerned.

Speaking about the system’s vulnerability, a Coimbatore-based member of Cyber Society of India S N Ravichandran says that hackers could even extract money from an individual’s bank account by using their Aadhaar details. “Once the data is out to private partners and other enterprises at the time of registering for a service or getting a SIM card, you cannot protect it anymore,” he says.

Besides, the system of redressal also seems a little out of reach. Even if you were to find out that your bank account was hacked with the help of your Aadhaar details, according to UID Act, it would be the UIDAI and not you who can file a complaint, points out Ravi.

Denying the charges raised by Ravi that the system is vulnerable and could lead to a data breach, Bengaluru-based data scientist G Arvind claims that Aadhaar is completely safe. Any breach in data or incidents of misuse could not have happened without the consent of the individual, he suggests.

While public worry that their data is being passed on to private mobile operators, Arvind clarifies that Aadhaar only gives access to validate the identity number under the Know Your Customer portal and not the individual’s data.

Officials of UIDAI working in South India refused to comment on the aspect of data security.