RTI Reveals Foreign Companies Had ‘Full Access’ to Aadhaar Data
It is also being said that these companies may have stored such sensitive, personal data for up to seven years.
At a time when there have been heated debates over whether Aadhaar should be made mandatory to avail benefits of welfare schemes or not, an RTI reply has disclosed that various foreign companies involved in the implementation of the Aadhaar programme got full access to personal data, ranging from fingerprints, iris scan data, date of birth to even the mobile number.
Furthermore, it is being said that these companies may have stored such data for up to seven years, reported TOI.
This revelation goes against the UIDAI's stand on the issue, as it has maintained Aadhaar data is not made available to any private firms.
The reply to the RTI, which was filed by Colonel Matthew Thomas of Bengaluru, has thrown light on the UIDAI’s contracts with companies including L-1 Identity Solutions Operating Co Pvt Ltd (an American biometric service provider), Morpho and Accenture Services Pvt Ltd.
The contentious clause 15.1 of the contract reportedly states that the company “may have access to personal data of the purchaser (UID), and/or a third party or any resident of India...”.
Notably, no concrete definition of the term 'personal data' has been provided in the contract. However, if one goes by the UIDAI’s definition of ‘personal data’, then it includes biometric information along with the name, date of birth, address and mobile number. Details such as bank account number and PAN number may also come under the banner of 'personal data'.
Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, an IT expert, was quoted by TOI as saying:
One cannot check for duplication without having raw data. If foreign firms had access to such data, as is clear from the language in the contract, it is potentially dangerous and needs to be looked into.
This revelation has come to light on a day when the Supreme Court said it would hear a batch of petitions on Aadhaar-related matters in November, after the Centre announced that it would extend the deadline to furnish Aadhaar to avail benefits of social welfare schemes till 31 December (from the earlier deadline of 30 September).
On August 24, a nine-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had 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 freedom guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
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