Maharashtra loses data of 3 lakh #UID cards #Aadhaar #WTFnews

, TNN | Apr 23, 2013, 04.02 AM IST

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has admitted the loss of personal data of about 3 lakh applicants for Aadhaar card, an error that has forced the inconvenience of reapplication on unwitting victims and sparked concerns over possible misuse of the data.

Containing PAN and biometric information, the data was being uploaded by the state information technology department from Mumbai to the central Bangalore server of the Unique Identification Number Authority of India when it got “lost”. “The information is encrypted when uploaded. While the transmission was in progress, the hard disk with the data crashed. When the data was downloaded in Bangalore, it could not be decrypted,” said an official from the state IT department, which is overseeing the enrolment of citizens for Unique Identification number (UID) or Aadhaar card. The data mostly belonged to applicants from Mumbai.

Rajesh Agarwal, secretary in the state IT department, maintained the lost data was highly encrypted and thus cannot be opened without “keys and multi-clues”.

Still, fears of misuse persisted. An application for Aadhaar card requires PAN details, proof of data of birth and residence, iris images, biometric data, and, if preferred, bank account numbers.

The loss came on top of thefts of laptops with UID data from Mumbai. Though complaints were registered with the police, officials contended the crimes were not necessarily for the data. The information on laptops therefore, they said, might not have been misused.

The consequence of this multi-faceted data mismanagement is being borne by people like T V Shah. A senior citizen living in Vile Parle, he applied for Aadhaar cards for his wife and himself but has not received them yet. “For a while, they said they will send the cards soon. I even wrote to the planning commission (nodal agency), but there was no reply. It seems they have lost our personal data, including our biometric details. Now they are telling us to re-register,” said Shah.

No explanations were offered to Shah as to what happened to his data.

Terrified that his personal data like PAN and SIM details may be misused, Shah is wondering if he should file a police complaint. “I remember reading news reports about a case of forgery in which one person’s PAN card was misused by somebody else to obtain a SIM card. The police made the PAN holder dance from Bangalore to Delhi,” he said.

As strong as his concern over data misuse is Shah’s dread of re-registration. The last time, he was told on day one to bring the ration card for the enrolment form. On day two he was informed that forms were issued only from 9am to 10am. On day three he was told forms were exhausted. Days later, he was told to come before 11.30am for an appointment. The next day, he was told to come another day since the person who gave appointments was out of office.

Registration for Aadhaar cards is currently underway in Mumbai city and suburbs, Pune, Nandurbar, Amravati and Wardha.

Officials said 30 agencies are working in Maharashtra on the enrolment for Aadhaar cards. So far, 6 crore citizens have been registered and 5.25 crore UID numbers generated. In Mumbai, of its 1.24 crore residents, 90 lakh have been enrolled and 85 lakh Aadhaar cards generated.

“The data that was lost constitutes over 1% of the total data collected. We have filed police complaints,” said an IT official, stressing that the department was responsible only for enrolment.

Confusion reigns over card, implementation timing

The gradually increasing currency of Aadhaar is simultaneously exposing the confusion over the system and its deficiencies. While the card is being demanded compulsorily for several services, it is also being refused by some for ostensible errors.

Rajan Alimchandani, a senior citizen, got his Aadhaar card without any hassle. The hassle began after its receipt. The Worli resident said: “My Aadhaar card bears my year of birth, but not the date of birth. When I produced it for a substitute debit card, the bank told me the Aadhaar card was invalid.”

Rajesh Agarwal, secretary in the state IT department, clarified that Alimchandani’s card was not invalid. “All cards issued so far bear just the year of birth. Many senior citizens are unable to provide the date of birth. Hence, only the year. Even my card bears just the year,” said Agarwal.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is mulling placing the date of birth too on the card. Those who have been issued cards, however, may not get new ones, said sources.

T V Shah, a former hydraulic engineer with the BMC, suffered a different problem. He and his wife applied for Aadhaar cards in 2011, but were never informed of their status. In January, when he went to the BMC for continuing his pension he was told that a photocopy of his Aadhaar card was needed for the allowance to be dispensed. “The BMC finally agreed to accept the enrolment receipt. But now, I have received a letter from the UIDAI to reregister ,” Shah said.

Yasmin works as a domestic help in Bandra (W) and has two daughters who study in the local civic school. Yasmin had to hire an agent to get Aadhaar cards for the daughters since the school said that “from the next academic year we have to buy textbooks, uniforms ourselves. The money will be put directly into the children’s bank accounts” . “If I had not got the cards for my children, they wouldn’t have been able to study.”

Who’s affected 

The lost UID data was of applications being processed; it mainly belonged to people from Mumbai. Those who have received their Aadhaar cards will be unaffected


PAN details and proof of residence have been frequently misused to procure SIM cards Iris images & biometric data are identifi cation forms. They can be used to create fake identities


Affected people should notify the police and ask them to make diary entry of the loss


Victims will have to reapply — identify Aadhaar centre, and get an appointment, which can take many visits

Times View

Extreme irresponsibility 

Losing data so important – and which could be misused if it falls in the wrong hands – is an act of extreme irresponsibility; the offence is compounded when the loss happens because of the callousness of a government agency, trusted by citizens who think the data are in safe hands. Several questions arise here. What happens if the data do fall into wrong hands and citizens lose plastic money or money from their accounts? Who tracks the route of loss of data and who compensates the citizen? Government agencies must learn to act more responsibly when they have been entrusted with such valuable information.



India takes its first serious step toward privacy regulation – but it may be misguided


Simon Davies ,


 By Simon Davies

The world’s second-most populous nation may be on the cusp of embracing privacy legislation. After several false starts the Indian government appears ready to accept the need for some form of regulation.


Shah’s report provided a convincing body of evidence – both at the domestic and the international level – for the creation of national regulation.

Well, maybe this is a slightly optimistic view. A more accurate portrayal might be “the Indian government appears ready to accept the principle of some form of regulation”. 

There is actually no agreed policy position across government on the question of privacy and data protection, but the Planning Commission last year established an Expert Group under the chairmanship of the former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, A.P.Shah. Justice Shah’s subsequent report is being considered and a draft Bill has been created.

Shah’s report provided a convincing body of evidence – both at the domestic and the international level – for the creation of national regulation. It called for the formation of a regulatory framework and set out nine principles that could form a foundation for the next stage. These principles – reflecting the basis of law in other countries – have been generally accepted by Indian stakeholders as a sound frame of reference for progress.

There’s a long way to go before consensus is established on a overall type of regulatory framework. Having said that, India is closer than ever to seeing real legislation – and the international community needs to put its weight behind the activity.


However although the nine principles are supported, the precise nature of any possible regulation is still very much in flux. There’s a long way to go before consensus is established on a overall type of regulatory framework. Having said that, India is closer than ever to seeing real legislation – and the international community needs to put its weight behind the activity.

Debate over the merits of data protection and privacy law stretch back beyond a decade but reform was constantly hampered by perceptions that regulation would stifle economic growth. Some industry lobbies have been as keen as government to ensure that privacy proposals are stillborn.

Even with the nine principles as a bedrock the path to privacy law must overcome two extremely difficult hurdles.

The first of these is that a substantial number of Indian opinion leaders continue to express an instinctive view that there is no cultural history for respect of privacy in India. That is, people don’t want or expect privacy protection and Western notions of privacy are alien to Indian society.

In support of this assertion these critics often cite an analogy about conversation on Indian trains. It is well known that many Indians will disclose their life story to strangers on the Indian rail network, discussing their personal affairs with people they have never before met. This trait is construed as evidence that Indians do not value their privacy.

Debate over the merits of data protection and privacy law stretch back beyond a decade but reform was constantly hampered by perceptions that regulation would stifle economic growth.

I spoke last week at an importantmeeting in New Delhi where this exact point was repeatedly made. The meeting, organised by the Data Security Council of India andICOMP India was well attended by industry, government, academics and NGOs. Speakers made constant reference to the matter of public disclosure of personal information. 

In response, noted commentator Vickram Crishna expressed the view that the train anecdote had no relevance and was a convenient ruse for people who for their own self interest opposed privacy regulation.

“In reality this circumstance is like Vegas”, he said. “What happens on Indian trains, stays on Indian trains. People will talk about their lives because they will never see these passengers again and there is no record of the disclosures.”

“What we are dealing with in the online world is a completely different matter. There is no correlation between the two environments”.

A substantial opinion poll published earlier this year also debunked the myth that Indians don’t care about privacy. Levels of concern expressed by respondents was roughly the same as the level of concern identified in other parts of the world.

A second hurdle facing privacy legislation is the perception –  particularly prevalent in the United States – that legislation will be a burden on industry and people do not want yet another cumbersome and costly government structure.

Government intervention does not enjoy a history of consistent success in the marketplace, though in many instances intervention has been the only means to bring industry into compliance with basic safeguards.


There are perhaps some grounds for considering this perspective, given the vast scale and complexity of India’s economy. Government intervention does not enjoy a history of consistent success in the marketplace, though in many instances intervention has been the only means to bring industry into compliance with basic safeguards.

I made the point at the meeting that support for a purist model of industry self regulation was simplistic and misguided. Most systems of a similar nature fail unless someone is mandated to ensure compliance, transparency, enforceability and consistency. It’s a question of finding a way to embed accountability in industry self regulation – and this is where legislation and government could help.

Justice Shah’s report reflected this widespread concern by recommending a co-regulatory framework in which a privacy commissioner would oversee industry self regulation. However – as last week’s meeting exemplified – even this compromise solution is not acceptable to many industry players. They oppose the idea of an appointed commissioner and believe that industry self regulation alone will be sufficient.

This is an influential view that cannot be brushed aside. However in a special programme to be aired tomorrow evening (19th April) on India’s main parliamentary television network – RSTV – I repeatedly make the point that such a view, if successful, would put Indian industry in danger of winning the battle but losing the war. Europe is unlikely to accept a model of sole industry regulation, and the crucial flow of data between the two regions could be imperiled

Conscious of all these challenges the influential NGO Centre for Internet and Society has published a draft Citizens privacy bill and has commenced a series of consultation meetings across the country. These initiatives will provide important input for the emerging legislation.

This is an important moment for privacy in India, and one that will require careful thought and sensitive implementation. However no-one in India should be in any doubt that the current unregulated situation is unsustainable in a global environment where nations are expected to protect both their citizens and the safety of data on their systems.


RTI activist targets Narendra Modi over foreign travel, seeks information


PTI, 3 October 2012

Ahmedabad: A Vadodara-based RTI activist on Tuesday asked the state’s BJP government to provide information about travelling expenses incurred by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues for attending a series of conference in 2007. Trupti Shah has sent a letter to Modi saying information about his and his Ministers’ travel-related expenses during ‘women empowerment sammelans’ had not been provided till date.

The letter comes in the wake of Modi seeking answers from the Centre regarding Congress President Sonia Gandhi‘s trips abroad which, he alleged, have cost the exchequer Rs 1880 crore. Shah said she had filed a Right to Information (RTI) application on July 18, 2007 seeking details about the expenses incurred by the state government for organising the sammelans in 27 places across the state in 2007.

Shah alleged she was denied the information even after repeated reminders. She said the state’s General Administrative Department (GAD), in a letter dated November 1, 2007, provided the list of 27 places visited by Modi from March 10, 2007 to September 20, 2007. But regarding the travelling expenses, the letter stated “the office of the Chief Minister did not mention the travelling expenses and so the CM’s travelling expenses may be considered nil.”
Now, RTI activist targets Modi over foreign travel, seeks infor

This, the activist alleged, is “ridiculous” and “unbelievable” because Modi had travelled to most of the 27 places by helicopter. Shah then shot off a letter on November 20, 2007 seeking details about the name and agencies who bore the expenditure. When her letter didn’t elicit a response from the GAD, she sent a reminder on January 18, 2008 and again on April 17, 2008 but she did not get any reply, Shah alleged.

After failing to get the required information, Shah filed a complaint under the RTI Act before the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Gujarat. In the last hearing on September 26, 2012, the CIC directed the GAD to hand over the relevant information to Shah before the next hearing in October. The officer concerned said the information was not available though they have requested the CMO and other ministers to provide it, Shah said.



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