The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has issued an advisory asking people to refrain from sharing their Aadhaar numbers with anyone or anywhere as this is against the law.
This follows the fiasco when RS Sharma Chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), shared publicly his Aadhaar number and challenged to reveal his personal details.
In a series of tweets, UIDAI, the authority assigned to tag every resident with a number, says, "People are advised to refrain from publicly putting their Aadhaar numbers on internet and social media and posing challenges to others. Such activities are uncalled for and should be refrained as these are not in accordance with the law."
Last week, the TRAI Chairman, who is set to retire in next few days, shared his Aadhaar number on Twitter with a challenge to 'harm him'. However, within moments, several people revealed his personal information, like permanent account number (PAN), his date of birth, mobile numbers, and residential address. Some even claimed to have created a profile of Mr Sharma using his Aadhaar number on e-shopping sites using these credentials.
Mr Sharma, former Director General (DG) and Mission Director of UIDAI, neither accepted nor rejected whether the information revealed on Twitter belonged to him or no.
Sharing Aadhaar number in public is against the provisions in the Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.
According to Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar, the disclosure of Mr Sharma's Aadhaar number in a tweet could be in violation of Regulation 6 of the Aadhaar (Sharing of Information) Regulations, 2016, which states that the number of an individual shall not be published, displayed or posted publicly by any person or entity or agency.
In addition, Sub-section 4 of Section 29 of the Act says, “No Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations.”
Further, organisations that continue to ask for Aadhaar numbers in their forms, displaying or storing it on their documents, certificates, registers and databases would be committing offences under Chapter VII 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 and various sections of the IPC.
"38. Whoever, not being authorised by the Authority, intentionally,—
(g) reveals any information in contravention of sub-section (5) of section 28, or shares, uses or displays information in contravention of section 29 or assists any person in any of the aforementioned acts;
...shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to a fine which shall not be less than Rs10 lakh."
UIDAI says indiscriminate and unwanted publication of any personally sensitive information whether Aadhaar or any other, may render the concerned person vulnerable and, therefore, should be avoided.
"In our regular media campaigns, we have been consistently making people aware not to display or publish or share their Aadhaar number in public domain. We emphasise that people should not display or publish their Aadhaar number in public," UIDAI added.