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UIDAI Contradicts Itself as It Calls RS Sharma’s Dare Uncalled For

Here’s proof that UIDAI is contradicting its own position so far, on the harms of making your Aadhaar number public.

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Days after (TRAI) Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chief RS Sharma challenged people to cause harm to him using his Aadhaar number, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has called such a dare “uncalled for” and said that it “should be refrained (from) as these are not in accordance with the law”.

The UIDAI is absolutely correct in stating that displaying your Aadhaar number on a public platform is an unwise decision. But that’s not all. In their cleanup act on Twitter, which included a thread with 9 tweets, the UIDAI has contradicted its own position so far on this issue.

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In the tweets posted on Tuesday evening, the UIDAI wrote, “In our regular media campaigns, we have been consistently making people aware not to display or publish or share their Aadhaar number in public domain. Indiscriminate and unwanted publication of any personally sensitive information whether Aadhaar or any other, may render the concerned person vulnerable and, therefore, should be avoided.”

The only problem? UIDAI had said the exact opposite thing just a few months ago, after an expose in March 2018 revealed that the Aadhaar number of several individuals had been made publicly accessible on the internet for no clear reason.

All one had to do to find Aadhaar numbers of random individuals was google the search phrase “mera aadhaar meri pehchan filetype:pdf”. At the time, the UIDAI had published yet another nine-tweet response, in which they said, “By simply knowing someone’s Aadhaar, no one can impersonate & harm him because Aadhaar alone is not sufficient, it requires biometrics to authenticate one’s Identity.”

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UIDAI Versus UIDAI

So, basically...

UIDAI on 31 July 2018: Indiscriminate and unwanted publication of any personally sensitive information whether Aadhaar or any other, may render the concerned person vulnerable and, therefore, should be avoided.

UIDAI on 16 March 2018: By simply knowing someone’s Aadhaar, no one can impersonate & harm him because Aadhaar alone is not sufficient, it requires biometrics to authenticate one’s identity.

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Calling Out UIDAI’s Bluff

TRAI chief and UIDAI’s founding CEO RS Sharma’s dare backfired spectacularly – for starters, someone deposited Re 1 in his bank account through the BHIM app and someone else subscribed to Amazon Cloud services using his Aadhaar number. If you think getting money from accounts unknown to you is not scary, contact a lawyer and they can explain why it is, but more on that in other articles on The Quint.

But getting back to the UIDAI. The UIDAI woke up after they realised that Sharma’s challenge had left him for the worse, and proudly declared that “in our regular media campaigns, we have been consistently making people aware not to display or publish or share their Aadhaar number in public domain.”

Only problem again? That’s just not true. In the tweet by UIDAI in March 2018, the claim made was “By simply knowing someone’s Aadhaar, no one can impersonate & harm him because Aadhaar alone is not sufficient”.

So the UIDAI was quite clearly not “making people aware not to display or publish or share their Aadhaar number in public domain”. In fact, if anything, the UIDAI was saying that there was absolutely no problem in people knowing just your Aadhaar number.

Time for a real apology now, UIDAI?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Aadhaar   UIDAI   RS Sharma 

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