While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy promoting the concept of digital India, his successor in Gujarat, Anandiben Patel appears to have thrown citizen’s privacy out of the window.
If you’ve ever made an attempt to get in touch with the Gujarat chief minister, Anandiben Patel, through the state government’s official portal gujaratindia.com, chances are your personal data has forever been stored not on the government website but on Anandiben Patel’s personal website, anandibenpatel.com.
Magic isn’t it? Yes, this is no matter of amusement for those who’ve been misled to leave their personal sensitive date on a website, which has nothing to do with the government and, therefore, vulnerable to be misused.
Here’s what happens!
On Gujarat government’s official website gujratindia.com, there lies a photo of Anandiben Patel on the top left side of the portal. Clicking on her profile will take you to the next page, which, among dozens of her portfolios, also provides you with an option to write to her (highlighted in the image 2 below).
This is where the magic truly happens as, clicking on ‘write to Smt Anandiben Patel’ mysteriously redirects you to a completely new website called anandibenpatel.com.
You’ve now left the official website of Gujarat government!
Unless you are eagle-eyed, you are unlikely to spot this magic and, therefore, recognise the danger to your personal data being ‘stolen.’
Anandibenpatel.com is a website, owned and managed by Patel in her personal capacity.
What it means is that even though the communications on the official portal of Gujarat government are expected to be official in nature, the government has absolutely no records of citizens’ correspondences with the chief minister.
It also presents terrifying prospects because Anandiben Patel, will have sole access to millions of personal data forever stored on her personal website even when she’s left the office.
Legal experts point to the article 72 in The Information Technology ACT, 2008, which describes such acts as criminal offence.
The act says, “Breach of confidentiality and privacy Save as otherwise provided in this Act or any other law for the time being in force, any person who, in pursuant of any of the powers conferred under this Act, rules or regulations made there under, has secured access to any electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material without the consent of the person concerned discloses such electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material to any other person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.”
But, not all countries in the world take the threat to data protection lightly. There have been many instances in UK and the US, where even the powerful government servants have had to face the consequences for breach in citizens’ data.
The US Democratic Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton is currently being investigated for allegedly storing classified information on her home server as secretary of state. If found guilty, she runs the risk of being disqualified to run for president’s office.
We tried to seek the Gujarat government’s reaction on this, but were unsuccessful.