Was TRAI Chairman RS Sharma being flamboyant when he made public his Aadhaar number on Twitter? Yes, if some within the government are to be believed.
“We don’t appreciate this flamboyant act of RS Sharma,” said a top official at the Ministry of Electronics and IT. Having said so, the official also stated that ‘the core of Aadhaar security is the biometrics — the fingerprint and the iris — because they constitute the crux of the digital identity that supplements the physical identity’.
The Saturday Twitter exchanges between Sharma and the so called ethical hackers have evoked mixed reactions from top leaders in the government — on whether such an act was done on purpose. Sharma had challenged a technology developer by publishing his Aadhaar number on Twitter asking him to give some examples of how sharing his Aadhaar number could harm him.
The Aadhaar provider, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), is also a firm believer that the data stored on its servers are ‘sacrosanct’ and no one can access them.
“There are around three-crore Aadhaar authentication done on a daily basis, and all these are kept in encrypted form. Many of the hackers have tried to hack the Aadhaar system, but they are all in vain till now, because it is safe and secure,” a senior official at the Authority said.
The ethical hackers who are stating that many details can be found out only through Aadhaar number are making a false claim, the official said.
“Many details can be found without even giving Aadhaar details. For instance, banking details of top ministers of the country can be found out because they all give details while filing their nominations. Therefore, beyond Aadhaar — there more than a dozen way of knowing the details of person’s bank information, address, PAN card and the date of birth,” he said.
However, whatever has happened, Sharma should not have shared the number publicly because the kind of information floating around on Saturday could harm others even if it is not him, said an industry expert.
“You should not go into a battle without preparation. As technology is growing, there is a threat too and cyber security is a major concern. There are claims that ₹1 was deposited in his bank account, which could be a biggest misuse of an Aadhaar number,” Pavan Duggal, cyber law expert and Supreme Court advocate, said.
He said more than 50 FIRs have been lodged against Aadhaar misuse across the country and there is not yet a proper hearing on them. And, the TRAI Chairman, a senior government official meanwhile does such a ‘stunt’.
Sharma has done more damage to Aadhaar than to the hackers, he said adding that the one-rupee transferred to his account could also be dangerous, if true. One can claim that such an account is being misused for financing cyber terror, Duggal said.
“Therefore, this was the biggest learning episode. It was a learning not to unnecessarily flaunt Aadhaar number and publicly challenge people. Government needs to work harder on how Aadhaar could be potentially misused and they have to work better towards the Aadhaar Act,” Duggal added.
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