Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R S Sharma on Saturday tweeted his Aadhaar number, with the “challenge” to show how the knowledge of the 12-digit number could be misused to “harm” him. Responding to his challenge, Twitter users posted his cellphone number, residential address and other personal details. However, Sharma said these details do not cause him any harm and were already available in the public domain.
“My Aadhaar number is XXXX XXXX XXXX (masked). Now I give this challenge to you: Show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me,” tweeted Sharma, former director general of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Sharma was replying to a tweet which asked him to “publish your Aadhaar details to the public if you have so much trust in this 13ft wall secured system”.
A Twitter user, who claimed to be a French security researcher, said none of Sharma’s bank accounts were linked to his Aadhaar number, but Sharma denied this. While Sharma did not respond to calls, he replied to a text message. “The challenge is open,” he said.
Sharma’s challenge came a day after the Srikrishna Committee submitted its report on data protection, including amendments in the Aadhaar Act and new safeguards to protect information of Aadhaar holders. The panel recommended that the Aadhaar Act be amended “significantly” to bolster privacy safeguards, and mooted that only public authorities discharging public functions, approved by the UIDAI or entities mandated by law, be given the right to request for identity authentication.
It pointed out that the current Aadhaar Act is silent on the powers of the UIDAI to take enforcement action against errant companies. “This includes companies wrongly insisting on Aadhaar numbers, those using Aadhaar numbers for unauthorised purposes and those leaking Aadhaar numbers, all of which have seen several instances in the recent past. Each of these can affect informational privacy and requires urgent redressal,” said the panel.