The Aadhaar data breach problem

Marsha Scott
January 8, 2018

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the body that runs Aadhaar, denied that the breach allowed access to millions of Aadhaar cardholders' details, saying demographic information can not be misused without biometrics (See: UIDAI probing reported Aadhaar data breach, but denies information leak).

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Alok Kumar confirmed that an FIR had been registered and an investigation launched, reported The Indian Express on Sunday.

The statement was signed on behalf of the Guild by its president Raj Chengappa, who has earlier also served as Editor in Chief of The Tribune, its general secretary Prakash Dubey and treasurer Kalyani Shankar.

The FIR mentions charges such as cheating, forgery and violation of the IT and Aadhaar Acts. The FIR has been filed on the basis of a complaint made to police by UIDAI.According to police sources, on January 5, UIDAI lodged a complaint in Cyber Cell, that an input has been received through the newspaper Tribune regarding violation of the Grievance Redressal System of UIDAI.

The UIDAI issued a statement justifying the complaint but denying that it amounted to shooting the messenger.

The UIDAI had then dismissed the reports, and said that such "misinformation was being spread by vested interests".

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A move by the Aadhaar issuer to file a police complaint against The Tribune newspaper and one of its reporters over an exposé on how the cards' data were selling for Rs 500 has stirred fresh concerns that the official machinery is deploying intimidatory tactics to deter unfavourable media coverage. "UIDAI assures that there has not been any Aadhaar data breach".

The Tribune, a local Indian newspaper, claimed that its reporters were able to purchase access to users' details via an "agent" who went by the name Anil Kumar on WhatsApp for just Rs 500 (£6, $8). It also stressed that biometric details - fingerprints of the enrolled individuals and their Iris scan - had not been accessed.

"UIDAI is duty bound to disclose all the details of the case, which was in its knowledge at the time of filing the FIR, and name everyone who is an active participant in the chain of the events leading to commission of the crime, regardless whether the person is a journalist or anyone else, so that police can conduct proper investigation and bring the real culprit to justice".

"The Aadhaar data, including biometric information, is fully safe and secure", it had said, adding, "There has not been any data breach of the biometric database, which remains fully safe and secure with the highest encryption at UIDAI and a mere display of demographic information can not be misused without biometrics".

"The FIR against The Tribune's Rachna Khaira must be withdrawn immediately", the BEA demanded.

The Aadhaar-issuing body Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has denied the report in a statement, saying, "Aadhaar data, including biometric information, is fully safe and secure". It added that the action is "unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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