Government shuts down all illegal Aadhaar service centres

The government has shut down illegal and fraudulent websites and apps offering Aadhaar services for violation of the Aadhaar Act, 2016. These included 12 websites, 12 smartphone apps and 26 other "fraudulent and illegal" websites / applications.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government arm that provides unique identification numbers called Aadhaar has asked Google Play Store to takedown 12 Android applications, to safeguard citizen's privacy.

These websites and apps claimed to provide Aadhaar-related services illegally and without permission, by charging excessive money from the public, for frivolous tasks like downloading Aadhaar card, relaying Aadhaar generation status, etc to users and thereby getting hold of their sensitive Aadhaar number and enrolment details.

"UIDAI has not authorised the owners of these mobile applications or websites to extend any Aadhaar related services on its behalf", said Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI.

"Any Aadhaar-related demographic information can only be shared following the procedures laid down in the Aadhaar Act, 2016. Any such violation is punishable under Section 38 and Chapter VII of the Aadhaar Act that provides punishment for 'Whoever, not being authorised by the Authority, intentionally accesses or secures, downloads, copies or extracts any data from the Central Identities Data Repository or stored in any removable storage medium," he added.

Pandey further warned against the unauthorised use of Aadhaar logo by the illegal websites and apps, which is again a breach of the Aadhaar Act and the Copyright Act.

He also cautioned the general public about dealing with such unauthorised and illegal entities claiming to provide Aadhaar related services, as that would risk their privacy.

"As per Section 70 of the IT Act, the government of India has declared the UIDAI's Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) facilities, information assets, logistics infrastructure and dependencies installed at UIDAI locations to be critically Protected System," he added.