Shocking! Maharashtra admits it lost Aadhaar data of three lakh people
Moneylife Digital Team 23 April 2013

The data loss in transmission from Mumbai to Bengaluru is just one of the incidents highlighting potential threat of Aadhaar. By creating a lucrative database under UID, we are creating the wrong incentives for various interets—from hackers to enemy nations

Maharashtra government has lost data of about three lakh people collected under the controversial Aadhaar scheme, mostly from Mumbai who enrolled into the number scheme.


According to a report in the Times of India, the data containing permanent account number (PAN) and biometric information was lost while being uploaded from Mumbai to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) server in Bengaluru. “While the transmission was in progress, the hard disk containing data crashed. When the data was downloaded in Bangalore, it could not be decrypted,” the newspaper report said quoting an official from Maharashtra information technology (IT) department, which is overseeing the enrolment of citizens.


Moneylife has been constantly raising questions  about the authority of UIDAI, privacy concerns and security of data that is being collected by various 'interested' third parties or registrars from gullible people under the pretext of cash or subsidy benefits.


UIDAI is under heavy criticism for concerns like privacy issues, use of biometrics and the incentives being paid for enrolling more residents. Many voices have been raised against the forceful implementation of the UID project, with most objections focused on concerns over privacy. In addition, the incentive issue will certainly push government employees to enrol more residents by any means, when they do not know what the UID is and how it would affect their lives.


Just last month, the Bombay High Court directed the Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI and Central government to decide within three months on a representation questioning the lack of safeguards in the Aadhaar and UID. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Vickram Krishna, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Yogesh Pawar, Dr Nagarjuna G, and Prof R Ramkumar (TISS).


Advocate for the petitioners, Mihir Desai, told the court that there were severe concerns on the issue of safety systems, privacy and security of the people.


Coming back to the data loss, according to the newspaper report, the (data) loss came on top of thefts of laptops with UID data from Mumbai. “Though complaints were registered with the police, officials contended the crimes were not necessarily for the data. The information on laptops therefore, they said, might not have been misused,” the report says.


Data loss or theft?

Apart from the state using information (collected under the Aadhaar scheme) selectively against political opponents whether to buy votes in parliament, silence political opponents or power-mongering over citizens, corporates and global MNCs also have sufficient interest in prizing information of citizens.


An insurance service provider would be keen to get all personal information and then base its decision on them. Similarly, any marketer would love to obtain such information to do targeted marketing. Companies want it and when demand exists, through bribery or legal means, such information would be public. Even today, most civil/criminal cases in courts are fought on evidence of illegally obtained telephone bills, call records and bank/credit card details. Tomorrow there will be more and easier availability of proofs and a larger grey market trading in private information would emerge.


It is also argued with good reason that by having such a lucrative database, we are creating incentives for wrong interests—from hackers to enemy nations. Probability is low or high is a premature question and not of primary concern. But given the risks, it is enough to worry about.


It does not matter to all of us if Aadhaar is made most secure or that it is a harmless dot. What worries is that in whose hands the web of connected dots that nets all personal information by using Aadhaar would be. It is the government and therein lies the worry.

10 years ago
You need to dig deeper. No self-respecting IT organisation exists without a disaster-recovery plan. Data is backed up and kept in two locations: one on-site, another, off-site. And this was precious data, collecting which involves costs in terms of time, money and opportunity.
Someone in Maharashtra govt. is pulling a fast one on moneylife!
ashwin bahl
Replied to Geetali comment 10 years ago
Yeh Disaster Management aur back up kya hota hai ? The appropriate Minister can answer this !
Avinash Murkute
10 years ago
This is not the first time data couldn't be deincrypted. The technologies they run on is 5+3 = 2+2. This i have demonstrated to tax commissiner working for vendor. Even a school going child can understand and operate better technologies. The only issue is - he can't award himelf Centre of Excellence Award.

While the paid advertisements of AADHAR (having similar logo to CPC) are dancing on facebook, email id of UID is sleeping (designed to sleep) and nobody responds to emails.

Now it is a time to ask Qualifications of those who consider themselves as the most qualified at the cost of GOVT paid AC chambers and salaries which they dooubleup from vendors without reporting to Govt

Happy retirement planning.
Prassoon Suryadas
10 years ago
What is shocking in this? Admitting?

Search for "Practical risks of Aadhaar / UID project" and learn more.
Ramesh Iyer
10 years ago
With so many PILs pending before the SC, don't understand why the SC hasn't proactively stayed the process of enrollment for this controversial (and unconstitutional) policy of the UPA govt. Besides, seems a Bill is pending before parliament, which should authorize the govt to proceed with this contentious policy, yet the UIDAI and govt are hurriedly enrolling in 'select' parts of India, for obvious political gains. Wish for judicial activism in this matter, as the UID process violates several fundamental rights of citizens, besides poor process of acquiring and securing critical data of Indian citizens (though Aadhar Card is not to prove citizenship, but only for Proof of ID and Address).
ashwin bahl
10 years ago
After spending millions on this Project the per cent age of people who have actually got the Card is dismal to say the least and on top of that quite a few concerns are being raised, can we get anything right ?
Prassoon Suryadas
Replied to ashwin bahl comment 10 years ago
this project itself isn't right!!!
Replied to ashwin bahl comment 10 years ago
Thanks God for that - fewer people are at risk!!!

Imagine the scale of data loss/theft if more people had got the Aadhar card already!!!
10 years ago
Check these links,which shows that why we should say NO to Aadhaar Card.

Punjab & Haryana High Court finds application of Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar legally questionable
Replied to Hemant comment 10 years ago
There are more stores done by Moneylife than anyone else in the media. You may want to read it in the UID segment
ashwin bahl
10 years ago
What about Accountability for such a serious lapse? It shows chalta hai attitude. Lage raho
Replied to ashwin bahl comment 10 years ago
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