Indian minister allays data breach fears of Aadhaar applicants

Two days after telling the ‘naked’ truth to critics of a government procedure for issuing national identity (Aadhaar) cards, an Indian federal minister said their privacy concerns and criticisms are misplaced and overstated. The personal data citizens provided to get Aadhaar card has never been breached and it is completely secure, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology K J Alphons said. How personal data is compromised if an applicant is asked to provide only name and address, he asked. The minister wanted to know what is private about digital data, biometric information and one’s iris. Last week, he came down heavily on critics of Aadhaar. Indians have no problem in giving fingerprint details and “getting naked (airport strip searches) before the white man” for US visas. They patiently fill up 10 pages of data to get a US visa. But when their own government asks them “simplest” of information, they have a huge privacy problem, he said. The minister also refuted allegations by Congress party that data from the official app of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being shared without the users’ consent. “Do you think the prime minister of India is going to transfer data to some private company in the US,” he asked. The recent theft of Facebook data by UK-based Cambridge Analytica has revived concern over privacy in digital India.