UIDAI begins probe on breach of Aadhaar database, initiates FIR

The Unique Identification Authority of India has begun investigations into a report that claimed access to its database of identity details of more than a billion citizens was being sold for just Rs 500 on social media. 

The report in The Tribune had said the paper was able to buy login credentials to the Aadhaar database, allowing it to access information such as the names, telephone numbers and addresses of millions of people. The paper said it bought access from someone on a WhatsApp group. 

The authority said the case appeared to be an instance of misuse of the grievance redress search facility. “Legal action, including lodging of FIR against the persons involved in the case, is being pursued,” the UIDAI said, while ensuring there had not been any breach of the biometric database. 

“The Aadhaar number is not a secret number. It is to be shared with authorised agencies whenever an Aadhaar-holder wishes to avail of certain services. But that does not mean that the proper use of the Aadhaar number poses a security or financial threat,” it said.

The UIDAI added that it maintained a “complete log and traceability of the facility and any misuse can be traced and appropriate action taken”. 

The authority said it had provided the search facility for grievance redress to designated personnel and state government officials. By entering the Aadhaar number, the facility only allows limited access to names and other details of individuals and not to biometric details.

The authority said that a mere display of demographic information could not be misused without biometrics.

The news report had said around 100,000 village-level entrepreneurs might have gained access to the UIDAI data in order to provide Aadhaar services for a fee after their services were discontinued.

Common service centre, or CSC, is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) under the department of electronics and information technology. The centres provide digital services like Aadhaar enrolment, ticket booking, and utility bill payment.

However, Dinesh Kumar Tyagi, chief executive officer, CSC SPV, said not all 300,000 such centres in the country were involved in Aadhaar enrolment. He said of the 27,000 such centres, only 10,000 were now involved in Aadhaar-related work after the UIDAI said only government premises could be used for enrolment processes.

Tyagi pointed out that all village-level entrepreneurs facilitating enrolment through the centres needed to authenticate themselves and the data was stored in UIDAI data centres.

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