UP TO 13.5 crore Aadhaar numbers are exposed and are publicly available on government websites and approximately 10 crore of these are linked to bank account details, according to a new report published on Monday. The 27-paged report — Information Security Practices of Aadhaar (or lack thereof): A documentation of public availability of Aadhaar Numbers with sensitive personal financial information — published by non-profit organisation The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) has collected Aadhaar data from four government portals.
Two of these are national portals: National Social Assistance Programme and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), both under the Ministry of Rural Development. The other two studied by the report’s authors, Srinivas Kodali and Amber Sinha, are run by the Andhra Pradesh government: a daily online payments report under NREGA by the state government, and Chandranna Bima Scheme.
The report states: “Based on the numbers available on the websites looked at, the estimated number of Aadhaar numbers leaked through these 4 portals could be around 130-135 million (13-13.5 crore) and the number of bank accounts numbers leaked at around 100 million (10 crore) from the specific portals we looked at.” Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the nodal body for Aadhaar, said, “There is no data leak from UIDAI.”
Since the CIS report focused on websites of only four schemes, it is possible that many more Aadhaar cards may be available on other government websites. At least nine other instances were reported in April alone. Section 29(4) of Aadhaar Act prohibits making Aadhaar number of any individual public.
Pandey said, “Aadhaar numbers and bank accounts have been independently collected from people by other agencies for their own usage, not related to UIDAI.” Asked if UIDAI will take action against errant government departments, he said the “police will need to take action”.