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Personal info on TRAI chief not taken from Aadhaar servers: UIDAI

Our Bureau Agencies Mumbai/New Delhi | Updated on July 29, 2018

RS Sharma, Chairman of TRAI   -  BusinessLine

RS Sharma’s ‘hack challenge’ leads to war of tweets

The UIDAI on Sunday asserted that the personal details of TRAI Chairman RS Sharma being put out on Twitter are not from the Aadhaar database or its servers, and that “so-called hacked information” is easily available with a simple search on Google and other sites without using the 12-digit unique identity number.

The UIDAI jumped into the debate following a full blown war of words on Twitter between Sharma and some users over the potential of Aadhaar number being misused.

It all began on Saturday afternoon, when Sharma tweeted his Aadhaar number and challenged people to dig up harmful information about him. “My Aadhaar number is 7621 7768 2740. Now I give this challenge to you: Show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me!” he tweeted.

Sharma, who was earlier with the UIDAI and was closely associated with the setting up of Aadhaar, was reacting to a dare from Twitter user @kingslyj: “Publish your Aadhaar details to the public if you have so much trust in this 13ft wall secured system.”

The TRAI chief’s open challenge had Twitter on a roll. While some sought legal protection for causing him harm, others questioned the regulator’s maturity in issuing the challenge. “He is too emotionally invested in Aadhaar to see its failings. Pretty similar to Dhridrashtra who can't see what Duryodhan has become. That is a story that repeats across generations and will keep repeating,” said @iam_anandv.

The banter turned serious after some hackers, including Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y), who claims to be a French security expert, put out personal information related to Sharma, including his mobile number, PAN number, email ID and a photograph claimed to have been accessed based on the Aadhaar number. “I stop here, I hope you will understand why make your #Aadhaar number public is not a good idea,” said @fs0c131y .

Public records

But the information put out by the hackers in no way harmed him, retorted Sharma. He found some support on the social media platform. “Such a big hacker and all he could manage in 5 hours is a phone number which is already a public record (he's a government official)? The man gave his aadhaar number and challenged everyone to bring something concrete which could harm him, not something which is public record,” said @TheWhatsappGuy.

The UIDAI in a statement today “strongly dismissed the claims made by certain elements on Twitter and a section of Media that they have fetched personal details of Ram Sewak Sharma who is a public servant using his Aadhaar number.”

“UIDAI condemns such malicious attempts by few individuals to malign the world’s largest unique identity project - Aadhaar,” it said. “This is merely cheap publicity by these unscrupulous elements who try to attract attention by creating such fake news.”

Anyone can google or tap other sources and find out Sharma’s personal details without Aadhaar, UIDAI said, pointing out that the his number is available on the NIC website as he was, at one point, the IT Secretary. Similarly, other details like date of birth are available in the civil list of IAS officers kept in public domain, while his address is on the TRAI website given his current role. The email id may be available in public domain too, it added.

Where’s the harm?

Sharma, meanwhile, emphasised that he threw the challenge as an individual, not as TRAI chief. He also said the challenge was not about fetching phone numbers and other data, but ‘harming’ him. “I challenged them for causing me harm! So far no success. Wish them luck,” he wrote.

Published on July 29, 2018

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