Aadhaar Data Of Over 2 Crore Punjab Residents Found On Seized Hard Disks
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Aadhaar data theft of about 7.82 crore residents of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, found Aadhaar data of 2 crore residents of Punjab of in a hard disk, reported The Tribune. The total population of Punjab is 2.8 crore.
The investigative agency found the data after it recovered a hard disk from It Grids (India) Pvt Ltd, a Hyderabad based IT company. The company has been booked for illegally holding possession of 7.8 crore records of Aadhaar data and misusing the same. IT Grids is the same company which built the “Seva Mitra” app, the official Telugu Desam Party app.
7.8 Crore + 2 Crore = 9.8 Crore
Additional recovery of 2 crore Aadhaar data took the alleged 7.8 crore data breach to 9.8 crores. The question is why a Hyderabad based company stored Aadhaar details of residents of Punjab? The investigating agency is looking into it. The agency is yet to question the Dakavaram Ashok, the CEO of the company. However, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has earlier repudiated the reports and asserted that the data servers were fine. The body on March 17 claimed its servers were safe and secured. Opposing UIDAI’s claim the police referred the case as the first one where the theft of data has been scientifically proven. Mere possession and storage of Aadhaar numbers of people, though it maybe an offence under the Aadhar Act under some circumstances, does not put the Aadhaar holders under any harm in any manner whatsoever. For accessing any Adhaar-based service, biometrics or one-time password (OTP) is also needed,” the UIDAI said.
What has happened earlier?
On 2nd March 2019, Thummala Lokeswara Reddy, a data analyst, lodged a complaint against IT Grids for alleged fraudulent usage of identity information like Aadhaar number, voter identity details including colour photographs of individuals, beneficiary details of various Government schemes, and data acquired by various surveys conducted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh through TDP’s Seva Mitra application. Later on, UIDAI led by T Bhavani Prasad also filed an FIR. The investigation led by SIT has given rise to suspicions of Seva Mitra application using illegally acquired voter information along with Aadhaar details of the State governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for voter profiling, targeted campaigning (If a government can put together the Aadhaar data it has access to, and the data of beneficiary details of government’s schemes, it can identify which section of the population is happy with the scheme and which section is not, thereby giving it an upper hand in planning its election manifesto and this is what is referred to as ‘targeted campaigning’) and even deletion of voters. The Telangana High Court directed IT Grids CEO D Ashok to respond to the notices that the Telangana Police issued in the data theft case.