RTI reply punctures govt’s claims on Aadhar, activist says contract gave foreign firms access to unencrypted data

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An RTI reply has contradicted the Centre’s Narendra Modi government’s claims that the foreign firms did not have access to unencrypted dat of Aadhar.

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In an RTI reply, it has been revealed that the foreign firms got “full access” to classified data including fingerprints, iris scan info, and personal information like date of birth, address and mobile number of the applicants, reported Times of India. Worse, they were even allowed to keep the data for seven years.

The RTI application was filed by Bengaluru-based Col Matthew Thomas, who’s also one of the petitioners in the right to privacy case currently being heard in the Supreme Court.

The contract with one of the biometric service providers (BSPs), L-1 Identity Solutions Operating Co Pvt Ltd, headquartered in US, says that the company was given Aadhaar data access “as part of its job”.

(L-1 has been taken over by French transnational Safran Group) Morpho and Accenture Services Pvt Ltd are two other firms that were given identical contracts with twoyear (2010 to 2012) Aadhaar data access, Times of India further reported.

Clause 15.1 of the contract, titled ‘Data and Hardware’, says that the firm, by virtue of the contract “may have access to personal data of the purchaser (UID), and/or a third party or any resident of India…”

The latest revelation came just days after WikiLeaks hinted at the theft of Aadhar data claiming that the CIA was using tools devised by US-based technology provider Cross Match Technologies for cyber spying.

In its series of tweets, WikiLeaks had asked, “Have CIA spies already stolen #India’s national ID card database?” Its tweet also had a link to an article on Cross Match’s Indian operations with its partner Smart Identity Devices Pvt Ltd. The company has enrolled 1.2 million Indian citizens on the Aadhaar database.

The latest revelation will send shivers across India as the debate over the safety of Aadhar rages on. The Supreme Court on Thursday had ruled that the right to privacy was a fundamental right of every citizen. The apex court is now likely to hear the matter on whether privacy argument linked to Aadhar was justifiable.

Those fighting against the Centre’s Narendra Modi’s government’s decision to make Aadhar mandatory for both financial transaction and availing government benefits will, no doubt, use the WikiLeaks’ revelation to support their argument.

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