India has assured its citizens that their personal data is safe and secure. There has been no incident of misuse of Aadhaar biometrics leading to identity theft and financial loss during the last five years when more than 400 crore Aadhaar authentication transactions have taken place, according to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). In a comprehensive clarification with regard to misinformation in some news items and articles appearing in various print and social media during the last few days alleging breach of Aadhaar data, misuse of biometrics, breach of privacy, and creation of parallel databases etc., UIDAI said that it has carefully gone into these reports and would like to emphasise that there has been no breach to UIDAI database of Aadhaar in any manner whatsoever and personal data of individuals held by UIDAI is fully safe and secure.
In a statement, UIDAI has said that Aadhaar based authentication is robust and secure as compared to any other contemporary systems. Aadhaar system has the capability to inquire into any instance of misuse of biometrics and identity theft and initiate action.
Advanced Encryption Technologies
UIDAI uses one of world’s most advanced encryption technologies in transmission and storage of data. As a result, during the last 7 seven years, there has been no report of breach or leak of residents’ data out of UIDAI, the statement adds.
UIDAI is continuously updating its security parameters looking at the new threats in cyber space. It also undertakes security audits and takes necessary steps to augment its security features. UIDAI has decided to have registered devices for capturing biometrics data and further that such biometrics will be encrypted at the point of capture itself. This will further strengthen the security features of Aadhaar eco system.
With reference to an incident of misuse of biometrics reported in a newspaper, UIDAI said that it is an isolated case of an employee working with a bank’s Business Correspondent’s company making an attempt to misuse his own biometrics which was detected by UIDAI internal security system and subsequently actions under the Aadhaar Act have been initiated.
Responding to media reports about on boarding of the ecosystem partners UIDAI said that the regulations under the Aadhaar Act strictly regulate the on-boarding, functioning including the data sharing restrictions imposed on the companies which want to use Aadhaar information.
On reports of misuse of e-KYC data by various agencies and also allegations that the e-KYC API is available in public domain, the Authority said that E-KYC APIs are available only to authorized Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) and e-KYC User agencies (KUAs) through authorized Authentication Service agencies (ASAs) which have established secured network connectivity for the purpose of authentication with the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR), in compliance with the Regulations, specifications, standards and technology architecture as prescribed by UIDAI.
An Important Tool of Good Governance
With reference to reports that there are no extant regulations available to prevent storage and misuse of e-KYC data while citing instances like capturing IRIS from high resolution photograph, UIDAI states that there are stringent provisions in the Aadhaar (Authentication) Regulations governing the usage of e-KYC data including storage and sharing, resident consent being paramount in both the cases. Any unauthorized capture of IRIS or fingerprints or storage or replay of biometrics or their misuse is a criminal offence under the Aadhaar Act.
An important tool of good governance and empowerment of people, Aadhaar has helped more than 4.47 crore people to open bank accounts through Aadhaar E-KYC. It has enabled the government to do Direct Benefit Transfer under various schemes such as LPG Subsidy under Pahal, Scholarships, MNREGA, and Pensions directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries eliminating corruption, diversion, and leakages by middlemen etc. Through Aadhaar based Direct Benefit Transfers the government has saved over Rs 49,000 Crore during the last two and half years. Aadhaar based Public Distributions System is benefitting people by ensuring that their food grain entitlement are given only to the deserving beneficiaries and are not cornered by unscrupulous and corrupt elements. These are just few examples of how Aadhaar is changing lives of common men and women of India, a task that the UIDAI is steadfastly committed to performing in a citizen-friendly, inclusive and secure manner.