Aadhaar Officials Make Huge Profits Using Aadhaar Services As Part Of Their Own Private Firms
Officials who have previously worked or are working with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the parent organisation for Aadhaar, are launching companies or funding start-ups that offer Aadhaar-based services and products for a fee, reports The Indian Express.
Vivek Raghavan, Chief Product Manager of UIDAI, served as a volunteer between October 2010 and June 2013. Srikanth Nadhamuni was UIDAI’s Head of Technology from 2009 to 2012; Sanjay Jain was Chief Product Manager at UIDAI between 2010 and 2012. All three of them founded Khosla Labs in India in September 2012. Investor and entrepreneur Vinod Khosla is its chairman.
In 2015, Khosla Labs launched Aadhaar Bridge, a licensed Authentication User Agency (AUA), for Aadhaar-based authentication services.
What is an AUA?
An AUA is a company licensed by UIDAI to allow Aadhaar-based authentications to verify a person’s identity. It can verify its customers or can offer this verification as a service to other companies. A private company can be licensed as either AUA or Authentication Service Agency (ASA) or Know your Client User Agency (KYA).
An ASA is licensed to access Aadhaar database stored in the Central Identities Data Repository, which has biometric and demographic data of every person enrolled with UIDAI. But an AUA and KYA can send requests to ASAs to access this database to authenticate an identity. Also, AUAs, KYAs can charge clients to send authentication requests to ASAs.
Aadhaar Bridge has a list of 250 clients on its website that includes companies like that of Hero Motors, Samsung, Ola, Hinduja Leyland Finance. They are charged an initial one-time fee and monthly fees for the product.
Raghavan, Jain and Nadhamuni – controversial professional backgrounds
Raghavan’s LinkedIn profile says that he is working with the UIDAI. Raghavan has claimed that he has resigned from Khosla labs in June 2013. Company documents, however, reveal that he was associated with the private firm continued until July 2013.
A similar case has been located with that of Sanjay Jain and Srikanth Nadhamuni who have claimed that they have left the company, but documents suggest something else.
Before quitting Khosla Labs, Jain and Nadhamuni had founded another company together in November 2014, Novopay Solutions.
Arun Maira, member of the Planning Commission when UIDAI was established under it, said that such links do raise issues of conflict of interest and can potentially distort the level playing field.
While both Raghavan and Jain did not respond to questionnaires sent by The Indian Express, Nadhamuni claimed that they “went through the due process of applying for a license with the UIDAI like all applicants.”
Khosla Labs is not the only company dealing with UIDAI and linked to Raghavan. In June 2015, AngelPrime, a venture capital fund, announced a “hackathon” to expose developers to Aadhaar.
The Logical Indian urges the authorities to look into the matter and ensure that such linkages, if at all taking place, are done within the precincts of law. It is essential that the massive pool of data that UIDAI has access to does not go into the wrong hands.
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