By Upmanyu Trivedi
India’s government counts on high-tech encryption, multi-layered authentication, and even 13-feet high walls to protect the world’s largest biometric database.Read more ↓
But there’s no measure that prevents careless officials at government agencies from publishing the sensitive information online, exposing citizens to fraudsters and data misuse. The official website boasting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to connect all Indian villages with electricity published several residents’ ‘Aadhaar’ — a unique 12-digit number along with identity and demographic details — as seen by Bloomberg last month. Access to data on the portal, including the names of villages, residents’ identity details and their photographs, was later blocked.
This follows an incident last month in which the southern state of Andhra Pradesh published online over 130,000 Aadhaar numbers along with demographic and some bank details. It only removed the details after reports in the local media. Several states and even the federal Central Bureau of Investigation have put out Aadhaar details online, flouting a government directive last year to not make the data public.
The program has the biometric data — irisNSE 0.00 %, fingerprint and photographs — of over a billion Indians and is key to Modi’s ‘Digital India’ plans. In a country where 22 percent of the 1.3 billion population is poor, the government has pushed to make Aadhaar the single identifier for all benefits and services ranging from free food to opening bank accounts and using mobile phones.
Constant lapses raise security concerns over the data trove, which the tech giants, like Microsoft Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. want to use for a host of services like authenticating job seekers and payments.Readmore…..