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Aadhaar agreement gave foreign companies access to unencrypted data

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BENGALURU: Contrary to the claims of Narendra Modi government, agreements signed with foreign firms by the Unique Identification Authority of India custodian of Aadhaar data, clearly depicts that they got complete access to classified data including fingerprints, iris scan info, and personal details such as date of birth, address and mobile number of the applicants. On an more interesting note, they were also given permission to store the data for seven years.

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This has came into light according to an RTI application filed by Bengaluru-based Col Matthew Thomas, one of the petitioners in the right to privacy case currently being heard in Supreme Court.

The RTI reply highlights the nature of the agreements contradicted UIDAI’s statements that no private entity had access to unencrypted data of Aadhaar.

The agreement with one of the biometric service providers (BSPs), L-1 Identity Solutions Operating Co Pvt Ltd, headquartered in US, says that the company was given Aadhaar data access “as part of its job”. (L-1 has been taken over by French transnational Safran Group) Morpho and Accenture Services Pvt Ltd are two other firms that were given identical contracts with twoyear (2010 to 2012) Aadhaar data access.

Clause 15.1 of the contract, titled ‘Data and Hardware’, says that the firm, by virtue of the contract “may have access to personal data of the purchaser (UID), and/or a third party or any resident of India…” Further, Clause 3, which deals with privacy, says that the BSP could “collect, use, transfer, store and process the data”. It also says that the BSP shall process all personal data in accordance with applicable law and regulation and should not disclose such information. The contract, however, does not define ‘personal data’.An advocate familiar with the subject explained: “If the contract does not define it, then we must go by the definitions given by UIDAI as part of the project.” According to UIDAI, personal data includes both biometric (fingerprints and iris) and demographic data (name, date of birth, address, mobile number). The latter may also include bank details, licence number, PAN number, passport number and other information furnished as part of KYC.

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