Express News Service
VIJAYAWADA: The Aadhaar details of many people, especially women, from Andhra Pradesh are available in the public domain, increasing fears of their misuse. The details of woman beneficiaries in the Bangaru Talli scheme, which was launched in 2013 in the united AP, has been hacked and the details of women enrolled under the scheme are available in various websites. In fact, pdf files of hundreds of Aadhaar cards can be downloaded through the site of Bangaru Talli scheme.
French security researcher Elliot Alderson has tweeted some of the Google search queries, where thousands of Aadhaar cards have been displayed in the public domain, which can be downloaded by any internet user.
When New Indian Express tried with one of the google query ‘Aam aadmi ka Adhikar filetype:pdf’, hundreds of links surfaced in the portal and majority of them belong to the Bangaru Talli website. The Bangaru Talli scheme was launched to take care of the girl child in every household from her birth till she completes her graduation. If a mother gives birth to a baby girl, Rs 2,500 will be deposited into her account under the scheme. As the baby grows, for the first two years, Rs 1,000 will be given for various vaccinations.
From 3rd year till the age of 5, Rs 1,500 will be given to the family every year through Anganwadi centres. Similarly, from schooling to graduation, the girl child will be given Rs 2,000 to Rs 4000 every year. For this, the Aadhaar card details of the mother were taken. After the bifurcation of the State, the scheme was active in 2014 and 2015. However, after 2015, the scheme was suspended by the AP government. However, the website is still active and the details of the beneficiaries are still on the server.
Interestingly, the officials of both the Women and Child Welfare Department and Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) are completely unaware of the developments. Commissioner of Women and Child Welfare Department W Arun Kumar told Express, “The scheme was initiated by the SERP and they transferred the scheme to our department. By that time, it was stopped. So, we didn’t include that in our database and still it is with SERP and we are not dealing with it.”Similarly, when Express contacted the officials of SERP, the are completely unaware of the Bangaru Talli website and the Aadhaar details in the website.
“I am not aware of the scheme or the subject. As Saturday and Sunday are government holidays, the concerned officials are not available. Soon, we will take up the issue to the concerned officials and take suitable action,” said Johnson, Joint Commissioner of SERP. Rama Devi of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) said, “The website hosts the details of women, with their residential addresses and other personal details. If such details reach the public through government sites, it will create a lot of safety issues. The government should take strict action for protecting the personal data of the public, especially women.”
The Aadhaar security: What UIDAI said
The security of Aadhaar has been questioned on various instances. A few months ago, reports emerged about a few people selling Aadhaar data for a fee. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) , however, maintained there had not been any breach of the biometric database, which remained totally secure, with the highest encryption. Mere display of demographic information could not be misused without biometrics, UIDAI had said. UIDAI said Aadhaar was like any other identity document and therefore, never to be treated as a confidential document. If anybody publishes someone’s personal information such as Aadhaar card, passport, mobile number, bank account number or photograph without authorisation, he can be sued for civil damages by the person whose privacy right is infringed.