In Jharkhand, a glitch revealed the digital identities of more than a million citizens on a website maintained by Jharkhand Directorate of Social Security. Throwing many’s privacy into confusion, the glitch also revealed their names, addresses, Aadhaar numbers and bank account details of the beneficiaries of Jharkhand’s old age pension scheme.
The personal details of over 1.6 million pensioners of which 1.4 million synced their bank accounts with their Aadhar number are available to anyone who logs into the website. Additionally, these 1.4 million pensioners will have to avail of direct bank transfers for their monthly pensions.
This incident comes in the wake of the heavy criticism which was slammed on the Centre’s demand to make Aadhaar mandatory for better government schemes and services. The Apex Court on Friday said that it will decide on whether Aadhaar card can be made mandatory for the filing of Income Tax returns. In addition, the Supreme Court also asked the government to explain the purpose for making Aadhaar card mandatory for IT returns.
Notably, under Section 29 (4) of the Aadhaar Act, publishing Aadhaar numbers is a violation.
Earlier this year, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) blacklisted an Aadhaar service provider for 10 years for publishing the Aadhaar number of MS Dhoni, former captain of the Indian cricket team.
In response to the incident, official in Jharkhand, MS Bhatia, secretary of the state’s social welfare department said, “We got to know about it this week itself. Our programmers are working on it, and the matter should be addressed very soon,”
“Will the CEO of UIDAI take any action against the government of Jharkhand for making this dataset public? And if they don’t, does that mean they condone this act?” said Pranesh Prakash, policy director at the Centre for Internet and Society.
The data breach, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, “makes a complete mockery of all that Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad have said in Parliament.”