The whole country now is tipped in this Aadhaar controversy. Well to look back, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman R.S. Sharma, claimed that Aadhaar does not violate privacy and the government has a right to create such a database of residents since it gives subsidies. Sharma, whose tenure ends on 9th August, added in an interview that, “Tell me what harm can you do to me if you have my Aadhaar details? I will give you my Aadhaar number if you like”.
A former IAS officer who was picked as the first director-general of the Unique Identification Authority of India or UIDAI in 2009 to issue Aadhaar numbers, Sharma also strongly defended the creation of a database of residents by the government.
Sharma, defending the creation of the database added that “The government has every right to do this. If the government is giving subsidies then it must know if it’s going to the right person and that no person is claiming it twice. Even if a bank account is linked to Aadhaar, UIDAI does not get your bank details and only serves to authenticate identity”. However, soon after his daring statement, a Twitter user dared him to “walk the talk” and reveal his number. Again, not one to duck in the face of a challenge, Sharma took to this microblogging site to make his number public. He also asked the user to “show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me!”, thus adding to the amusement of netizens.
— @kingslyj (@kingslyj) July 28, 2018
However, Sharma soon got his answer. A user named Elliot Alderson, who described himself as a French security researcher, posted Sharma’s phone number, email address and PAN and a picture of the TRAI chief with a woman relative without revealing her identity.
He further added that Sharma’s bank account was not linked to Aadhaar, to which the TRAI chief responded: “Looks like you are not as good as you claim to be! All my bank accounts are linked to Aadhaar. Further, even if you know my bank account number, so what!”
Alderson then said that he would “stop here” and asked Sharma if he understood why making his Aadhaar number public “is not a good idea”. To conclude, Alderson stated that he was “not against Aadhaar, but only against people who think Aadhaar is unhackable”.
However, the story doesn’t itself ends here. Rather, there’s a new twist to this tale. UIDAI cleared out that any information pertaining to Sharma wasn’t fetched from Aadhaar database or UIDAI’s servers.
The organization gave further clarifications that, the “so-called hacked” information about the TRAI chief was already available in public domain as he has been a public servant for decades and that people should not believe such fraudulent elements active on social media.
UIDAI issued a public statement which read that “Any information published on Twitter about RS Sharma wasn’t fetched from the Aadhaar database or UIDAI’s servers. In fact, this so-called “hacked” information was already available in the public domain as he is a public servant for decades and was easily available on Google and other sites. Sharma’s mobile number is available on National Informatics Centre’s (NIC) website as he was once Secretary IT. His date of birth is available in the Civil List of IAS Officers which is kept in public domain and his address is on Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) website because he is the Chairman. They clubbed all these inputs and claimed to have breached the Aadhaar database. Aadhaar database is fully safe and secure and no such information about Mr. Sharma has been fetched from UIDAI’s servers or Aadhaar database”.
Now, let’s see where does this Aadhaar controversy actually leads to.