Published: Fri, January 05, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Here's what Edward Snowden had to say about India's Aadhaar programme

Here's what Edward Snowden had to say about India's Aadhaar programme

The authority has initiated a police complaint against people responsible for selling the access but assured in its statement that crucial data "including biometric information, is fully safe and secure".

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which governs the Aadhaar project, on Thursday denied the claims that the Aadhaar database had been breached, as was interpreted by some, but noted that the newspaper had accessed limited details abusing a search facility that is only available to government officials. UIDAI says the portal is intended for government officials for addressing grievances such as rectifying spelling mistakes in a person's name. A detailed investigation done by the daily revealed that with just Rs 500, information such as the names, telephone numbers and addresses of millions of people could be bought.

It claimed that it purchased the code and was able to access the data, as well as the software that enables users to print fake Aadhaar cards.

Last month, the agency barred telecoms firm Bharti Airtel and its Airtel Payments Bank from using Aadhaar details to verify customers' identities, because the facility was being misused to open accounts on its payment platform.

This person was part of group that had access to the database through former workers who were asked to make the cards, the report said.

UIDAI, the body that runs Aadhaar, denied that the breach allowed access to millions of Aadhaar cardholders' details+, saying the search facility is available for the objective of grievance redressal and only to designated personnel and state government officials.

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"UIDAI maintains complete log and traceability of the facility", the government-backed agency said, adding that "FIR will be lodged against the misuse of grievance redressal system".

"Claims of data breach in biometric database are totally unfounded". According to the government, this will include a huge number of citizens in the digital economy, allowing them direct access to social programs in the country, where 84% of the benefits are lost due to intermediaries.

The UIDAI said in a statement that "There has not been any Aadhaar data breach".

Snowden said on Twitter, "It is the natural tendency of government to desire flawless records of private lives".

Snowden, while re-tweeting Whittaker's tweet, said the result of govt's desire for "perfect records of private lives" of its citizens is "abuse", "no matter the laws".

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