Ranchi, April 26: Right to food activists, led by economist Jean Drèze, have sought action against those responsible for an Aadhaar data leak from a Jharkhand government website allegedly detected a few days ago even though the state government has denied any such thing has ever happened.
"It was an illegal act and those responsible for the leak must be punished," Dhiraj Kumar, a key functionary of NREGA Sahayata Kendra, demanded while addressing the media along with Drèze at XISS in Ranchi today.
"If a centre that was found responsible for leaking the Aadhaar number of cricketer M.S. Dhoni could be blacklisted for 10 years, there's no reason why these people should be spared," he added.
Details of over 14 lakh people, all beneficiaries of social security schemes like old-age pension, including their Aadhaar card and bank account numbers, were apparently visible to those accessing the website of the department of women and child welfare on the night of April 22.
"In the course of doing a survey in Khunti block on April 21, I found lots of beneficiary details, like name, age, sex, category (SC, ST), bank details and also, surprisingly, Aadhaar card numbers," Kumar alleged, alluding to reports to this effect in a section of the press.
The activists claimed they had screenshots of the website to prove that there was indeed a security breach that led to confidential data being made public.
"Confidentiality is of utmost importance and public display of those details is prohibited," said Drèze, who is also a visiting professor at Ranchi University.
"This leak may just be the tip of the iceberg as no one monitors government websites regularly," he said, adding that his suspicion was strengthened by reports of similar leaks from some government websites in Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram and Chandigarh.
The state women and child welfare department has all along denied there was any leak of Aadhaar data.
Joint director Ram Pravesh Prasad, who handles the direct benefit transfer (DBT) system, described media reports alleging the April 22 breach as "falsified" but refused to elaborate any further.
But another department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained that Aadhaar details were only visible to individuals who wanted to verify their bank or any other details.
"So, for 16 lakh beneficiaries of different schemes, we made a provision of a search button where you can punch your name, village or post office to see those details. Only a bonafide beneficiary can see his or her details, which isn't legally wrong," he said, adding that on the dashboard of the website, the total number of beneficiaries is mentioned.
But the official could not explain how the activists were able to site screenshots if there had been no data breach.
A cyber security expert pointed out that the Aadhaar portal had a provision wherein a biometric card-holder could lock his/her details to prevent its misuse.
"But beneficiaries of social security schemes, most of whom are not tech-savvy and had got themselves Aadhaar numbers only to ensure they continued to receive government benefits, are unlikely to be able to do this," explained Vineet Kumar, the founder of Cyber Peace Foundation.
The UIDAI has taken two successive governments in India and the entire world for a ride. It identifies nothing. It is not unique. The entire UID data has never been verified and audited. The UID cannot be used for governance, financial databases or anything. It’s use is the biggest threat to national security since independence. – Anupam Saraph 2018
When I opposed Aadhaar in 2010 , I was called a BJP stooge. In 2016 I am still opposing Aadhaar for the same reasons and I am told I am a Congress die hard. No one wants to see why I oppose Aadhaar as it is too difficult. Plus Aadhaar is FREE so why not get one ? Ram Krishnaswamy
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.-Mahatma Gandhi
In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.Mahatma Gandhi
“The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21. The right to privacy is not a guaranteed under the constitution, because privacy is not a fundamental right.” Article 21 of the Indian constitution refers to the right to life and liberty -Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi
“There is merit in the complaints. You are unwittingly allowing snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation. The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.”-A three judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said in an interim order.
Legal scholarUsha Ramanathandescribes UID as an inverse of sunshine laws like the Right to Information. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizen, the UID does the inverse: it makes the citizen transparent to the state, she says.
Good idea gone bad
I have written earlier that UID/Aadhaar was a poorly designed, unreliable and expensive solution to the really good idea of providing national identification for over a billion Indians. My petition contends that UID in its current form violates the right to privacy of a citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is because sensitive biometric and demographic information of citizens are with enrolment agencies, registrars and sub-registrars who have no legal liability for any misuse of this data. This petition has opened up the larger discussion on privacy rights for Indians. The current Article 21 interpretation by the Supreme Court was done decades ago, before the advent of internet and today’s technology and all the new privacy challenges that have arisen as a consequence.Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha
“What is Aadhaar? There is enormous confusion. That Aadhaar will identify people who are entitled for subsidy. No. Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t,” Jairam Ramesh
But Aadhaar has been mythologised during the previous government by its creators into some technology super force that will transform governance in a miraculous manner. I even read an article recently that compared Aadhaar to some revolution and quoted a 1930s historian, Will Durant.Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP
“I know you will say that it is not mandatory. But, it is compulsorily mandatorily voluntary,” Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Saba April 2017.
August 24, 2017: The nine-judge Constitution Bench rules that right to privacy is “intrinsic to life and liberty”and is inherently protected under the various fundamental freedoms enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the World; indeed it's the only thing that ever has"
“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” -Edward Snowden
In the Supreme Court, Meenakshi Arora, one of the senior counsel in the case, compared it to living under a general, perpetual, nation-wide criminal warrant.
Had never thought of it that way, but living in the Aadhaar universe is like living in a prison. All of us are treated like criminals with barely any rights or recourse and gatekeepers have absolute power on you and your life.
Announcing the launch of the#BreakAadhaarChainscampaign, culminating with events in multiple cities on 12th Jan. This is the last opportunity to make your voice heard before the Supreme Court hearings start on 17th Jan 2018. In collaboration with @no2uidand@rozi_roti.
UIDAI's security seems to be founded on four time tested pillars of security idiocy
2) Issue fiats and point finger
3) Shoot messenger
4) Bury head in sand.
God Save India