Indian Police arrests engineer for hacking Aadhaar, an Identity platform

Obinna Obioha

Indian Police have arrested a software engineer for stealing sensitive information on more than 50,000 people from India’s Aadhaar biometric identity program.

The engineer was said to have been accused of gaining information from the nationwide platform from January to July by using an app to mimic another initiative that lets Aadhaar holders set up appointments online with Delhi hospitals, Bloomberg report says.

“The person is in police custody and has been charged with criminal conspiracy and forgery under the Indian Penal Code as well as the Information Technology Act,” said Suneel Kumar, police commissioner of Bangalore.

Aadhaar is a strategic policy tool for social and financial inclusion, public sector delivery reforms, managing fiscal budgets, increase convenience and promote hassle-free people-centric governance.

Though data leakages have been reported in the local press, the case involving the engineer marks the first prosecution related to the system.

According to the complaint, the engineer farmed details including names, addresses and phone numbers through an app. If proven guilty, the engineer faces three years in jail and a hefty fine.

Ajay Bhushan Pandey, chief executive officer of the Unique Identification Authority of India, which oversees the program, said in a statement that Aadhaar data is completely secure and asked users not to disclose their individual numbers to unknown persons, callers or websites.

The Aadhaar identity platform is one of the key pillars of the ‘Digital India’, wherein every resident of the country is provided with a unique identity. The Aadhaar programme has already achieved several milestones and is by far the largest biometrics based identification system in the world.

The identity platform with its inherent features of Uniqueness, Authentication, Financial Address and e-KYC, enables the Government of India to directly reach residents of the country in delivery of various subsidies, benefits and services by using the resident’s Aadhaar number only.