Dhoni’s personal Aadhaar data leaked on Twitter

After wife Sakshi complains to Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, UIDAI blacklists Aadhaar centre for 10 years. But, larger privacy concerns remain

Photo by Saumya Khandelwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Saumya Khandelwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH National Bureau

Former Indian cricket skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni may well be famous for his ‘helicopter shot’. On Tuesday though he got into a spin regarding his privacy when he went to promote Aadhaar services in his hometown, Ranchi. While the CSC e-governance services of India—the agency that helps the Unique Identification Authority of India to implement Aadhaar—tweeted a photo of Dhoni authenticating fingerprints for Aadhaar, it also added a screenshot of his Aadhaar registration details.

Incidentally, CSC had copied Ravi Shankar Prasad—Union Minister for Law and Justice, Information Technology—on the tweet. And, the Minister ‘liked’ the tweet too.

Dhoni’s wife Sakshi Singh though was not amused. Flagging the issue, she tweeted “@rsprasad @CSCegov_ is there any privacy left ??? Information of adhaar card including application is made public property!#disappointed (sic)”

And, then a spate of exchanges with the befuddled minister followed. It seemed like Prasad hadn’t checked the tweet that he ‘liked’ carefully. CSC had deleted the original tweet.

“No it is not a public property. Does this Tweet divulge any personal information? (sic),” he asked.

“Serious action will be taken,” assured Prasad.

Soon after, news reports quoted UIDAI of blacklisting the Aadhaar centre for 10 years. “We have blacklisted VLE (Village Level Entrepreneur) who enrolled MS Dhoni for leaking Aadhaar receipt which carried his personal information. At UIDAI, we are very strict on the privacy issue. We have ordered further inquiry on the matter and action will be taken against all those involved in the leak,” UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told PTI.

But, there’s a larger problem. Perhaps over-enthusiasm or a fan moment may have led to CSC tweeting Dhoni’s personal Aadhaar data. While the Aadhaar centre has been banned after the Minister took personal interest after a celebrity’s privacy is breached, would similar seriousness be seen if it were the case of an ordinary citizen?

While the NDA government promotes Aadhaar in a big way, it has shut its eyes to the privacy issues of individuals. There are concerns raised repeatedly over the security of biometric data in possession of UIDAI as well, which is usually dismissed.

Already, there is a very disturbing instance of Aadhaar data breach that has caused privacy concerns. Mint reported on the UIDAI filing a police complaint on February 15 against Axis Bank, business correspondent Suvidhaa Infoserve and e-sign provider eMudhra, alleging they had attempted unauthorised authentication and impersonation by illegally storing Aadhaar biometrics.

Worse, the country does not have a specific law that safeguards the privacy of its citizens. “The Government has initiated the process of drafting the legislation to protect privacy of individuals breached through unlawful means in consultation with various stakeholders,” Prasad had informed Rajya Sabha on April 29, 2016. But, there has been no progress since.

Worse, the NDA government’s viewpoint on privacy has been appalling. In November 2015, the Attorney General of India argued before the Supreme Court saying that the citizens of India “did not have a fundamental right to privacy” guaranteed by the Constitution. The Supreme Court has referred refer the question whether citizens have a fundamental right to privacy to a Constitution Bench. Much will depend on what the apex court says on the privacy issue.

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