Oftentimes, moments of propaganda masquerade as fan moments, when legends of Indian sports world become mascots of a dodgy government scheme.
Such a fan moment happened when cricketer MS Dhoni’s Aadhaar enrollment process, by a firm called CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, and Union minister of information technology (also of law and justice), Ravi Shankar Prasad, tweeted out a picture, freezing the historic moment for posterity.
Great push for Digital India. Brilliant ambassador and willing backer of Aadhaar, the biometric identity from Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI). So far, so good. Until, in the overenthusiasm, a major breach of data, privacy and trust happens.
@rsprasad Sir personal information filled in form is leaked !— Sakshi Singh ????????❤️ (@SaakshiSRawat) March 28, 2017
@SaakshiSRawat Thanks for bringing this to my notice. Sharing personal information is illegal. Serious action will be taken against this.— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) March 28, 2017
In a series of tweets (embedded above), MS Dhoni’s wife, Saakshi Rawat Dhoni, complained to minister Prasad that an overenthusiastic volunteer had posted a picture of himself with the cricketing legend and had also put out a picture divulging sensitive details pertaining to his Aadhaar enrollment.
Mrs Dhoni tweeted the screenshot of the tweet that had the details, drawing minister Prasad’s attention to this massive security lapse and a general lack of understanding among the very volunteers who are handling Aadhaar enrollment, authentication services on behalf of the government.
While prompt action has been taken and the Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE) has been blacklisted for ten years owing to this breach, the fact that even VVIPs are not safe when it comes to Aadhaar and its deeply problematic, in-built insecurities, what really happens to the ordinary Indians, especially the poor breached, betrayed and struck-off from Aadhaar’s digital universe?
As of now, no clarification has come from Aadhaar’s official Twitter account @UIDAI, and nor has @CSSeGov_ tweeted out a public apology to MS Dhoni.
However, reactions to this blatant display of digital arrogance by the proponents of Aadhaar have started coming in.
Not just Dhoni, at the time of demonetisation, banks insisted on photocopies of all sorts of ids. And they were not stored safely either— Prosenjit Datta (@ProsaicView) March 29, 2017
Anti-Aadhaar digital privacy activists and journalists have been documenting how the poor get excluded from an Aadhaar-based identity system.
"Swayam Gupta cannot withdraw Rs 1200 to buy books, uniform as his name in the Aadhaar been misspelled as Shivam" https://t.co/MasYCU2Om6— Rethink Aadhaar (@no2uid) March 28, 2017
"Mahi Kanojia on August 4 2016 could not be enrolled for Laadli as she did not have an Aadhaar, she was denied registration as "too young"— Rethink Aadhaar (@no2uid) March 28, 2017
"9-yr old Sabra Khatoon’s sex on the Aadhaar Card mentioned as ‘Male’, denied Laadli, EWS medical card, attempts b to rectify data in vain"— Rethink Aadhaar (@no2uid) March 28, 2017
Similarly, the security concerns and the legal overreach of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 are staggering.
1. Aadhaar "voluntary" 2. Aadhaar Act a money bill 3.only for subsidies (NOT fintech) 4.10000s crore savings claims, NO DATA with ministries https://t.co/A6Yc4xa9k5— Rethink Aadhaar (@no2uid) March 29, 2017
Basically: Aadhaar Act gives a legal power to the goverment for issuing secret orders to the UIDAI without limits. What will it be used for?— Apar (@aparatbar) March 27, 2017
As per me statutory basis (requires a vague, unaccountable creation of power), for mass survelliance is Section 50 of the Aadhaar Act. pic.twitter.com/T2ESFK040m— Apar (@aparatbar) March 27, 2017
What happened with MS Dhoni is happening to thousands of common Indians everyday. However, there’s very little hue and cry about the daily breaches and overreaches by Aadhaar’s invasive and fraud-prone identity project.