UIDAI chief tells cops to speed up Aadhaar leak probes

Unhappy with the pace of investigation in three data leak cases, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chief executive officer Ajay Bhushan Pandey has requested Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik to expedite the probe and book the culprits. The cases have been registered under various sections of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Subsidies, Benefits, and Services) Act, 2016.

Aadhaar, the unique identification system launched by the previous Congress-led government and now championed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, has lately come under scrutiny over concerns surrounding data theft and security of personal information provided.

 In a single-page letter sent to Patnaik on Wednesday, Pandey sought the status report of three cases registered by the Delhi Police, and also demanded spreading of awareness among the force regarding cases that can be filed under the Aadhaar Act. Expressing concern about the cases, the UIDAI CEO requested Patnaik to personally look into the matter.

Sources in the Delhi police headquarters told DNA that Patnaik has directed the Crime Branch to look into the status of the three cases.

The concerns about financial frauds as well as identity thefts due to lack of proper security mechanisms, affecting over 13 crore people, have been doing rounds for some time now. "Incidents of data leak were reported from various parts of the country. Now, the UIDAI is taking all precautions to ensure that no leak or fraud takes place," a source said.

Earlier this year, the police had registered three data leak cases. The first FIR was lodged on the basis of a UIDAI complaint, which stated that Aadhaar applications with same biometric information but two different names had been filed.

The second FIR was lodged in February against the chairman of a Gurugram-based think-tank for allegedly spreading rumours about the vulnerabilities in the Aadhaar-enabled payment systems. He also published a blog, which included a video demonstrating how biometric information could be stored on a device.

In a case of privacy invasion, cricketer M S Dhoni's wife Sakshi wrote on social media that her husband's Aadhaar details were made public.

On the back foot, the government took action against the agency tasked by the UIDAI to generate Dhoni's Aadhaar number. It also blacklisted the agency, which leaked Dhoni's receipt, for 10 years.