The tall claims by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the agency that issues Aadhaar, regarding the protection of Aadhaar have proven false after the recovery of a hard disk containing Aadhaar data of 2 crore residents of Punjab. Recently, on April 17, UIDAI had claimed that its servers are completely safe and fully secure. Notably, the total population of Punjab is 2.8 crore out of which Aadhaar data of over 2 crore people was found with IT Grids (India) Pvt Ltd., a Hyderabad based IT company. As per the reports, a Special Investigative Agency (SIT) seized seven hard disks and other digital evidences from the company, which has been booked for illegally possessing the Aadhaar details of a large number of people.
It has also been revealed that it is the same company that built the “Seva Mitra” application for Telugu Desam Party (TDP). These revelations have triggered anxieties among people. What is pertinent to note is that the same company was booked for possessing the data of 7.82 crore residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, taking the total alleged data theft to 9.8 crore accounts. According to Money Life, the earlier FIR against the company states, “…investigation so far has revealed that Seva Mitra application is suspected to be using stolen voter information along with Aadhaar data of the state governments of Telangana and Aadhra Pradesh for voter profiling, targeted campaigning and even deletion of votes.”
UIDAI had said, "“Mere possession and storage of Aadhaar numbers of people, though it maybe an offence under the Aadhaar Act under some circumstances, does not put the Aadhaar holders under any harm in any manner whatsoever. For accessing any Aadhaar-based service, biometrics or one-time password (OTP) is also needed." But the question which arises is, what was the theft of data of 2 crore Punjabi residents used for?
Also Read: Aadhaar Data Theft: UIDAI Busts its Own Claim, Flags ‘National Security’ Concern
How did it Start?
A complaint, registered on March 2, 2019, by a data analyst, Thummala Lokeswara Reddy, against IT Grids for alleged fraudulent usage of identity information like Aadhaar number, voter identity details, and so on acquired by various surveys conducted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh through TDP’s Seva Mitra application, was the first step towards rupturing the fallacy of the argument that Aadhaar data is safe.
As per the reports, the investigations made by the SIT led to suspicion over the Seva Mitra application illegally using voter information from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for voter profiling and targeted campaigning. In the meantime, D Ashok, CEO of IT Grids has been asked by Telangana High Court to respond to the notices of Telangana police in the alleged data theft cases.
Read More: Voter Deletions in Telangana Using Aadhaar Questioned