Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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Government unaware of the casualty with Aadhaar

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chief RS Sharma challenged a Twitterati to do him harm based on his Aadhaar number, unaware that his move would come back to hit him. Sharma disclosed his Aadhaar number in a tweet and wrote that “My Aadhaar number is **********, Now I give this challenge to you: Show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me”. Hours after his statement, few Twitter users came forward with his personal details such as his phone number, personal email ID, his PAN number and even his Air India frequent flier number. All these were done in a matter of a few minutes. The hacker then said that he would stop here, asking Sharma if he understood why making Aadhaar number public is not a good idea. The data privacy is a big and very important issue in the digital world. Cybersecurity aside but breach is happening; you can’t trust people involved in the project (all are third party companies). Also, it’s not 100 per cent clear who has access to all the private data. Can a powerful politician grab everything about you? Even if there’s no access, it’s technically possible to grab the data directly from the database and we don’t set its encryption keys if data is encrypted. There are more aspects of privacy issues like my fingerprints in possession of cyber criminals (when talking about the breach in centralised databases, the question is when) can cause me to not able to use certain services in the upcoming Internet of Things era. On an extreme level, criminals can kidnap you because they know from your Aadhaar based shopping habits that you are rich.

The worst thing is that the Supreme Court is giving logic that if private companies can have our private data, then why can’t the state have our data? The Supreme Court earlier said that the Aadhaar card might be used to avail government schemes including employment guarantee, pension and bank accounts. Earlier, as per the court’s order, the card could have been used only voluntarily for availing subsidies under the public distribution system and purchasing kerosene and cooking gas. This ruling is seen as a relief to the government, which has been trying to persuade the Supreme Court to extend Aadhaar’s uses after a slew of blows to the unique identity or UID programme following privacy petitions. After this order, the Aadhaar card can be used for availing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Jan Dhan Yojana, provident funds, and pension schemes. The Supreme Court told the petitioners challenging the government that if the card can be used for some government schemes voluntarily, there was no reason to prevent it in others. The ruling, however, does not agree to all of the government’s pleas. The Reserve Bank of India, stock market watchdog SEBI, telecom regulator TRAI, and a number of states had moved the Supreme Court for extending the voluntary use of Aadhaar card to a number of other services. The government’s ambitious UID scheme has been challenged in court over privacy concerns since it uses biometric data like fingerprint and iris scans. The court has already referred a related debate over whether privacy is a fundamental right to a constitution bench.

The UID/Aadhaar is the biggest scam when another few lakh crores of taxpayers’ money will be looted by the authorities involved. Everything that government touches is stinking with corruption. The much-touted RTI Act also is a tragedy and every Information Commissioner should be investigated for corruption/assets disproportionate to known sources of income because it is commonsensical to suspect bribe when the public information officers are not penalised as per the law and left off scot-free even when information required to be provided is denied. Certainly, the government planned a way of looting the exchequer unimpeded, unquestioned, it always finds and ways of how to diminish the treasury. Whatsoever, in spite of all the scams and controversies, the Aadhaar card has played a vital role in securing person’s personal identity, time and again. The recent verdict indirectly gave nod to the voluntary usage of Aadhaar, directly gave a loud and clear message that this is one of the vital documents too. The government is asking us to disclose three numbers everywhere: Bank account number, UID number, and mobile number. These are the ways you identify yourself in various places and now you make that completely insecure because it’s all over the place.

Then they wanted biometrics everywhere. So, it’s a system without a system.

Look at the recent challenge thrown by TRAI’s chief RS Sharma; he got slapped in no time. The government needs to understand the casualty with Aadhaar card. You all must be wondering how the hacker got these details, a web page comes up which has queried all the Aadhaar related information that you filled up including your photo at the time of enrolling for Aadhaar. The purpose of this step is to ‘verify’ if your personal information is correct. The data hacker (not from a UIDAI DB, but of the insurance DB) would know everything about you. This could be used for a variety of scenarios from simple marketing to even political or racial profiling. If biometrics is exposed in such ‘Query responses’, God forbid, can’t even think of what all can happen!


(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on feedback@afternoonvoice.com)

Dr. Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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