The Unique identification Authority of India (UIDAI) rubbished the reports of Aadhaar data breach that made headlines on January 4, saying that the details of more than a billion people are safe with them. The assurance may have put to rest the fears of the public, but American whistleblower Edward Snowden says that the Aadhaar database is not immune to "government abuse."
Snowden, who has always been a sceptic of governments in general, tweeted: "It is the natural tendency of government to desire perfect records of private lives. History shows that no matter the laws, the result is abuse."
Snowden was responding to a tweet (retweet) to CBS journalist Zack Whittaker's response on a BuzzFeed report on the breach of Aadhaar database.
Whittaker had tweeted earlier, "ICYMI. India has a national ID database with the private information of nearly 1.2 billion nationals. It's reportedly been breached. Admin accounts can be made and access can be sold to the database, reports BuzzFeed."
The BuzzFeed report cites a report by The Tribune which claimed that its reporters paid Rs 500 to an "agent" who they contacted through WhatsApp. The agent was able to create a username and password that gave them access to the demographic information of nearly 1.2 billion Indians who have currently enrolled in Aadhaar, simply by entering a person's unique 12-digit Aadhaar number.
However, The UIDAI on January 4, responded to the report, saying that it was a clear case of "misreporting" and that the Aadhaar data including the biometric information of the 1.2 billion people enrolled in the system was safe and secure.
"There has not been any Aadhaar data breach. The Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure," the UIDAI said in a statement.
Snowden's response does cast some aspertion on the Aadhaar system.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of India is set to begin the final hearing of petitions challenging the legality of Aadhaar programme based on privacy concerns on January 17.
In August last year, the Supreme Court held the privacy of an individual as a fundamental right under the Indian constitution.