How important and brilliant is Aadhar- Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric ID system, with over 1.19 billion enrolled members as of 30Nov 2017. As of this date, over 99% of Indians aged 18 and above had been enrolled in Aadhaar. World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer described Aadhaar as “the most sophisticated ID programme in the world”. He went on to say that it would be better if world follows the same system. “It could be good for the world if this became widely adopted,” Romer is of the view that world needs to have one standardized system for people’s ID. “Other countries are also looking at similar programs, but research shows it’s best to develop one standardized system so people can carry their IDs wherever they go in the world,” Paul Romer added.
Risks- However, owing to increasing concerns around privacy, the potential for surveillance, and exclusion of eligible beneficiaries from welfare schemes from the leveraging of Aadhaar-based systems, the Aadhaar project’s validity is being challenged in the Supreme Court of India (as of November 2017).
Management- The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.
Identity theft- Rachna Khaira, a journalist with The Tribune, had reported on anonymous sellers allegedly providing access to details of the more than 1 billion Aadhaar holders. The breach was revealed to the public when the tribune reporter made a payment of just INR 500 using a mobile payment gateway, Paytm just in 10 minutes. By entering the provided credentials, the reporter was able to get all details on any person within the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) database. This data included personal information like names, contact numbers, addresses, photos, emails, and more. Additionally, the sting operation team paid an extra INR 300 to get access to custom “software” that could provide users with the exact format of an Aadhaar card with stolen information.
Sanjay Jindal ADG at UIDAI- “Except the Director-General and I, no third person in Punjab should have a login access to our official portal. Anyone else having access is illegal, and is a major national security breach,” said Sanjay Jindal, Additional Director-General at UIDAI’s regional office in Chandigarh.
Accordingly, the UIDAI has filed a police complaint against the people involved in the “racket,” but those responsible have not yet been identified.
At press time, UIDAI has denied the results of the Tribune‘s sting operation, calling it a case of misreporting. The firm guaranteed that there had been no Aadhaar data leak and all relevant information is safe and secure. UIDAI stated that some designated officials might have misused the information provided to them and no sensitive information can be accessed without biometrics. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has registered an FIR against the news daily and journalist Rachna Khaira, reports said on Sunday.
In a statement, the BEA (Broadcast Editors Association) demanded an immediate withdrawal of the First Information Report or FIR against Khaira, who has been charged under various sections of the IPC, including forgery and cheating.
Calling it an attack on free speech, the BEA said, “Such FIRs against journalists exposing systemic flaws is a spiteful kick in the teeth of Indian democracy and the right to free speech and expression,” BEA said. “The FIR against The Tribune’s Rachna Khaira must be withdrawn immediately,” the BEA demanded.