Amidst raging debate over the Centre’s plan to make linking of Aadhaar to mobile phones and bank accounts mandatory, it has emerged that more than 200 central and state government websites publicly displayed names and addresses of some Aadhaar beneficiaries.
In an RTI reply, the Unique Identification Authority of India, the Aadhaar issuing body, confessed that it took note of the breach and got the data removed from those websites. It did not specify when the breach took place. The Aadhaar details were never made public from or by the UIDAI, it added.
“However, it was found that approximately 210 websites of central government, state government departments including educational institutes were displaying the list of beneficiaries along with their name, address, other details and Aadhaar numbers for information of general public,” it was quoted by PTI.
UIDAI issues Aadhaar – a 12-digit unique identification number – which acts as a proof of identity and address anywhere in the country.
The central government has made the linkage of Aadhaar to mobile phones and bank accounts mandatory as well as well those seeking to avail benefits of various social service schemes.
The Supreme Court is likely to hear a petition opposing the government’s move later this month. This was after the Supreme Court delivered a historic judgement declaring people’s right to privacy a fundamental right.
A nine-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had on August 24, declared the Right to privacy as a Fundamental right saying it is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
The critics of the Narendra Modi government’s move argue that forcing citizens to link their Aadhaar to phones and bank accounts will lead to their privacy being severely compromised. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has publicly announced that she will not link her Aadhaar to mobile even if it means her phone getting disconnected.