“Getting Naked Before White Man” Not A Problem: Minister On Aadhaar Row

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Activists have questioned the validity of Aadhaar in the Supreme Court.

New Delhi:  Union minister KJ Alphons today weighed in on the Aadhaar versus Right to Privacy debate, as concerns over data safety spiked following the Cambridge Analytica’s unauthorised use of Facebook data in US elections, and reports of Aadhaar data being open to misuse owing to fresh security lapses. As Unique Identification Authority UIDAI denied any security breach, Mr Alphons — the junior minister for Electronics and Information Technology departments — took a dig at activists who question the validity of Aadhaar and want to rein in the mandatory linking of the Unique Identity number to a range of services.

People have a problem only when “your own government” asks for data, Mr Alphons said.

“I filled up to 10 pages for US Visa form. We have absolutely no problem giving our fingerprints and getting body naked before the white man at all,” Mr Alphons said. “When your own government asks for your name and address, there is a massive revolution, saying it is an intrusion of privacy”.

The Supreme Court, where activists have challenged Aadhaar, has indefinitely put on hold its mandatory linking to all services except government welfare schemes.

Earlier this week, business technology news website ZDNet reported that a data leak on a system run by a state-owned utility company can allow access to private information of Aadhaar holders, exposing their names and financial details. The report, however, did not name the state utility.Calling the report “baseless”, the Unique Identification Authority said had it been true also, it has “nothing to do with the security of UIDAI’s Aadhaar database”.

For more than a year, the UIDAI, which collected biometric, demographic and financial data of 1.2 billion Indians, has been fighting claims of data leakage. Last week, its chief Ajay Bhushan Pandey told the Supreme Court that Aadhaar data has been secured by a 2048-bit encryption key that will take a supercomputer more than the age of universe, or over 13 billion years, to crack.


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