Reports of Data Breach Raise Questions About Aadhaar Security Yet Again

Violet Powell
January 5, 2018

The publication said its reporter was able to access names, email addresses, phone numbers and postal codes by typing in a 12-digit unique identification number in the government database.

UIDAI, the Aadhaar governing body further stated that the Aadhaar information can only be accessed by designated personnel and state government officials, and the search facility is available for the goal of grievance redressal.

It said the authority maintains complete log and traceability of its search facility and any misuse was traceable.

History has shown that no matter what the laws are, the result is always abuse, said former US National Security Agency contractor and American whistleblower Edward Snowden on Friday while commenting on the Indian government's Aadhaar programme. Snowden shared his viewpoint after a report came to light last week claiming that private information in almost 1.2 billion Indian nationals in Aadhaar cards has been breached.

The report said an "agent" available on WhatsApp helped facilitate access with a login ID and password to obtain details on an Aadhaar number.

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These groups targeted over three lakh village-level enterprise operators hired by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (ME&IT) under the Common Service Centres Scheme (CSCS) across India, offering them access to UIDAI data.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, UIDAI said it has given search facility for the goal of grievance redressal to the designated personnel and state government officials to help residents only by entering their Aadhaar number / EID. "As UIDAI maintains complete log and traceability of the facility, the legal action including lodging of FIR against the persons involved in the instant case is being done".

Over one lakh VLEs are now suspected of gaining illegal access to Aadhaar data to provide the service to people for a fee. In a statement issued here, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) reiterated that there "has not been any Aadhaar data breach".

In a counter argument, the authority said that a mere display of demographic information could not be misused without biometrics. The authority has initiated a police complaint against people responsible for selling the access but assured in its statement that crucial data "including biometric information, is fully safe and secure. That is a partial breach of the biometric data too, even if biometric data was not downloaded".

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