23 May 2017 | Last updated 09:19 AM

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Error 404: Aadhaar safety
Nikhil Bhave | Sunday, 14 May 2017 AT 10:59 AM IST
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Open WhatsApp and chances are you will receive at least 1-2 jokes regarding Aadhaar number being made mandatory. It has now been linked with your PAN, you need it to get subsidised LPG cylinders, and avail of other such benefits. But is the data safe?

Apparently not, going by the bevy of data leaks in the last few months. The culprits: various state and central departments. A report by the Centre for Internet and Society has come out with a damning stat. About 130 million Aadhar numbers may have been leaked through government databases for schemes like NREGA.

The victims are from all social classes. One most glaring example is of cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose Aadhaar details managed to make their way to social media, forcing his wife Sakshi to complain to the Union Law and Information and Technology Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad. This is but one example, a full list is very extensive.

Various bodies, including the Supreme Court, have voiced concern over privacy of Aadhaar data. With the data being linked to everything from tax returns to mobile SIMs, a breach could have disastrous consequences for many. To add further to the mess, a Hindustan Times report states that in one of the cases in Jharkhand, the authorities apparently knew about the breach, but appeared indifferent about it.

The victims were pensioners, whose names, addresses and bank account details were there for everyone to see, as per the HT report. The centre has also washed its hands off the alleged leaks. It recently told the Supreme Court that the UIDAI is foolproof. The UIDAI went on to state that biometric data has not been leaked.

So why should these leaks concern us? There are multiple ways the data can be misused. First and foremost: identity theft. With the UIDAI being mandatory for many things, it is not impossible that the leaked data can be misused for various ends, even terrorism.

Secondly, with information about every individual open for all to see, it raises serious concerns about privacy. A breach of privacy irritates you no end. Now imagine everyone able to see your personal details such as PAN no, bank account number, and the ways they can be exploited.

Despite the scheme of Digital India being put forth by the government, it seems not much is being done to make living in a digital age safer for Indians. The concerned agencies need to get their act together, fast.

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