Faith shaken, Aadhaar card raises issues of data security

Last Updated 25 March 2014, 20:28 IST

Sting op by web portal may turn into a poll plank in Bangalore South

The UIDAI scheme has been drawing flak from Bangaloreans for being flawed, with some of them even filing petitions in the Supreme Court. 

It is now under more fire from the public who have received their Aadhaar numbers. They fear that their personal data would be misused, particularly after the recent sting operation by a web portal showed the ease with which one can pay up and get an Aadhaar number. 

The sting operation and the Supreme Court judgment that Aadhaar is not mandatory seems to have added fuel to the fire in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections. 

The UIDAI scheme of the UPA government is turning into an election issue with former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani contesting elections from Bangalore South as the Congress candidate. 

Sumanth P, a software engineer and a resident of Indiranagar, who recently received his UIDAI number, said, “I am shocked that people are getting UIDAI by paying a meagre amount at the enrolment centres and without valid documents. Under these circumstances, how can I be sure that the information I have provided is in safe hands. 

“If by paying money, people can get Aadhaar number, by paying money, they can also get our data. Who will be accountable for that? Isn’t it an important issue for parties, if the safety and security of information of the citizens is being compromised with,” he questioned.

Bitter truth

Speaking with Deccan Herald, Somasekhar V K, managing trustee of Grahak Shakti and one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court against UIDAI , said, “The public is, of course, scared and  worried after seeing the bitter truth that how casual it is for those handling the enrolments and data.

Many people are not aware that the data is being shared with a foreign company. We are all well aware of the Edward Snowden controversy and the snooping cases happening around.”

He said that before launching such a huge scheme, there was no study conducted to ensure that it will be foolproof. People have reasons to get worried, of their personal details being misused or shared without their knowledge. 

In fact, the parliamentary standing committee on UIDAI has itself termed it as “directionless, ill-conceived,” raising questions on its efficacy, he said.

In a callous manner

Mathew Thomas, managing trustee of The Fifth Estate and another petitioner in the case, said, “The concerns of the public are completely genuine. Anyone and everyone can get himself enrolled after paying money, be it an illegal Bangladeshi migrant or anyone with a fake address proof, as the expose has revealed.

Since the data is collected by ill-equipped private companies who have no government supervision on them, it is no surprise that it is done in such a callous and casual manner. 

“Already more than 

Rs 5,000 crore has been spent on the project and several crores of rupees on other departments which link their benefit schemes with Aadhaar. This despite the fact that many of the firms which were roped in to collect data have several FIRs against them for committing frauds and subletting their contracts to others.” 

“It is high time that Nandan Nilekani, even if he has demitted office, should stand up and tell the public on what action he is going to take on this, since he aspires to be a people’s representative.”

(Published 25 March 2014, 20:28 IST)

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