Gemalto, the world’s largest digital security company issued a public notice in which it apologized for publishing inaccurate data about ‘Aadhaar data breach’ of more than 1 billion users in the first half of 2018. “All parties concerned should note that we have not been able to find any verified or substantiated data breach of Aadhaar data. As a result, Gemalto has withdrawn the data breach claim from the Breach Level Index Report,” read the public note from the company. Gemalto is the world’s largest manufacturer of SIM cards, it also provides digital security software applications to secure personal devices such as smart cards and tokens.
Previously, Gemalto published a report on October 15 on the Breach Level Index which calculates the breach of public data. In the report, the company claimed that personal data of more than 1 billion people of the country was compromised. Name, address and other personally identified information was accessed by private organizations through breach of Aadhaar data. “This is of particular concern, since the stolen, lost or compromised data records of only one out of 12 breaches were protected by encryption to render the information useless, a zero per cent compared to the first six months of 2017,” read the press release of Gemalto on Breach Level Index report. “As an organization providing cyber security expertise and solutions, we have not been able to find any evidence of any Aadhaar data being breached. Any inconvenience caused to the people of India by our actions is deeply regretted,” Gemalto added.
Aadhaar data became a political issue after it was found that private companies are using personal data of individuals without their consent. The Supreme Court of India issued a landmark judgment to ban the use of Aadhaar data by private companies. Following the order of apex court, Department of Telecommunication (DoT) issued a notice to telecom companies to stop Aadhaar based e-KYC which is required for verification of a person getting a new SIM card. All telecom companies should “discontinue the use of Aadhaar e-KYC services of UIDAI for re-verification of existing subscribers with immediate effect”. “All licensees are to discontinue the use of Aadhaar e-KYC services of the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) both for verification as well as for issuing new mobile connections. All operators shall ensure its implementation across the country in a time-bound manner and compliance in this regard be submitted by November 5, 2018,” read the statement by DoT.
Data theft has become a major issue in previous years, especially after Cambridge Analytica-Facebook case came into light. Cambridge Analytica, a London based political consultancy firm was found to be using personal data of Facebook users for targeted political advertisement. However, Aadhaar has been praised by technology legends and economists across the world. Paul Romer who received the prize for ‘Integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis’ has called Aadhaar the ‘most sophisticated system’ that he has ever seen. He told Bloomberg,“Aadhaar is the basis for all kinds of connections that involve things like financial transactions…..it could be good for the world if this became widely adopted. It should be part of the policy of the government to give individuals some control over the data that the private firms collect and some control over how that data is used”.
Aadhaar proved very beneficial in providing uniterrupted free welfare to the people of the country. In 2016-17 alone, the government saved plugging leakage worth Rs 32, 984 crore. In the previous fiscal year, government saved 90,000 crore by streamlining welfare schemes through Aadhaar. Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) through Aadhaar made the transfer of MGNREGA benefits more transparent and thus the concept of middle man was done away. DBT has been hugely beneficial for the government to control the leakage in the delivery of public services. There are talks that DBT could also be used for direct transfer of compensation to farmer’s account instead of using Minimum Support Price (MSP).
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