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Mamata vows to keep her phone off Aadhaar at any cost

26 October 2017

West Bengal chief minister is ready to even lose her phone connection, but won't ever link it with the 12 digit biometric identification number Aadhaar.

The West Bengal chief minister, like several others, feels that the card created mainly to plug leakages in the delivery of state benefits, could be used for identity theft.

''Under no circumstances will I link my Aadhaar with my telephone number. If the authorities disconnect my phone, let them do it,'' Mamata said on Wednesday.

She also urged people to follow suit, alleging that linking phone to Aadhaar is a ploy to breach people's privacy.

Opponents of project say that the massive Aadhaar data collection process, which has information of more than a billion Indians, could be used for identity theft, government surveillance and security breaches.

They cite the instance of the blacklisting of a government-authorised Aadhaar enrolment centre for publishing former Indian cricket team captain MS Dhoni's personal details in March.

The instance was brought to the notice of union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who had promised action to stop the menace, but nothing seems to have been done so far to deter Common Service Centres from misusing personal data.

In April this year, more than a million Aadhaar numbers were leaked by a Jharkhand government website. Officials involved were unaware of how the data made its way onto the public domain and the glitch revealed the names, addresses, Aadhaar numbers and bank account details of the beneficiaries of Jharkhand's old age pension scheme.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) shut down the website but days after the Jharkhand leaks, at least four other data breaches were reported.

About 210 websites of the central and state government departments were found to be displaying personal details and Aadhaar numbers of beneficiaries, Parliament was informed during the monsoon session in July.

''UIDAI (The Unique Identification Authority of India) has taken note of the same and is regularly monitoring the status to get the Aadhaar data removed from the said websites,'' minister of state for electronics and IT, PP Chaudhary, said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.

A Punjab government website in August exposed the Aadhaar numbers of more than 20,000 people who applied for low-cost housing in Ludhiana and Jagraon.

A Bengaluru-based software developer was arrested in August for allegedly accessing the Aadhaar database through a mobile application he had developed, while a man was arrested after he got his dog an Aadhaar card in Madhya Pradesh's Bhind district in 2015.

Like all Aadhaar cards, it had a photo of the dog with the name Tommy Singh, son of Sheru Singh, and mentioned his date of birth as 26 November 2009.

What's better? Police had to investigate if the accused had made such cards for other animals too.

And three years ago, the UIDAI assigned 2094705195411 as the 12-digit unique identification number to 'Lord Hanuman'. The Aadhaar card even bore a picture of the popular Hindu god, addressed him as the son of 'Pawan' and even displayed a mobile number and thumbprint.

There were, however, no takers for the card which a postman in Sikar district of Rajasthan had to deliver. It was dispatched from Bangalore.

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