'Irrespective of laws, result is abuse': Snowden on Aadhaar controversy
One more name, and a famous one at that, has been added to the list of people opposing Aadhaar. Edward Snowden, American whistleblower, said 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 the "sale" of unlimited Aadhaar records at just Rs. 500.
What's the racket about?
Correspondents of The Tribune got in touch with anonymous elements who "sold" Aadhaar details. After Rs. 500 was transferred to them via Paytm, they created an ID for the client, which allowed them unrestricted access to the Aadhaar portal. For another Rs. 300, the racketeers also let the client print Aadhaar cards. They installed necessary software on the client's computer while accessing it remotely.
Snowden responds to article on the racket
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. https://t.co/7HSQSZ4T3f— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 4, 2018
Snowden's work towards protection of privacy
Snowden, responsible for revealing the NSA's mass surveillance, has made his own contributions to the fight for privacy. Last year, he and hacker Andrew "Bunnie" designed the "introspection engine", a cover that stops a phone from transmitting data without the user's consent. Less than a month ago, he launched the "Haven" app that converts Android devices into a spy tool to prevent physical tampering.
No breach, biometrics safe, Aadhaar number isn't secret: UIDAI responds
On its part, the UIDAI has denied the report of The Tribune, insisting there has been no breach in Aadhaar data. The case was about "misuse" of an authorized service, it said. "The Aadhaar number is not a secret number," it said, clarifying the service in question gives only "limited access to name and other details and has no access to biometric details".
But does safety of biometrics mean no risks?
Unfortunately, biometrics isn't the only thing private about Aadhaar. Under the right to privacy, sharing of personal data without consent is illegal by itself. Moreover, easy availability of a person's information like phone number and address, especially women's, might put them at risk of crimes.
Final hearing on mandatory Aadhaar on January 17
For now, the deadline to link Aadhaar to various services stands at March 31. The SC will conduct the final hearing in the ongoing case against mandatory Aadhaar on January 17. Those arguing against Aadhaar said the Center shouldn't be allowed to take coercive action if someone refuses to provide Aadhaar details. Contrarily, the Center has extended its scope more and more.