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UIDAI gets first complaint of misuse of personal data

October 02, 2011 15:31 IST

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is looking into a complaint of misuse of personal data while issuing unique 'Aadhaar' numbers to individuals, its first case of breach of privacy.

"The contact centre of UIDAI is handling the grievances and complaints of all stakeholders. They have not received any specific complaint related to privacy concerns while collecting individual data. However, a complaint regarding misuse of address proof was received," the authority said in reply to an RTI query.

However, it did not give details of the complaint, received this year, and the complainant.

"The contact centre has registered a complaint and forwarded the same to the concerned department," the authority said without elaborating on it.

The complaint cites possibility on the vulnerability of individual data being collected by UIDAI.

"The Authority envisions a balance between privacy and purpose when it comes to the information it collects on residents.

"The agencies may store the information of the residents they enroll if they are authorised to do so, but will not have access to the information in the Aadhaar database. The UIDAI will answer all requests to authenticate identity only through a 'Yes' or 'No' response," the reply said.

The Authority is mandated to issue every citizen a 12-digit unique identification number linked to the resident's demographic and biometric information, which they can use to identify themselves anywhere in India, and to access a host of benefits and services.

The UIDAI plans to enter into a privacy contract with all registrars authorised to enrol individuals for Aadhaar.

"The Authority will also enter into contracts with Registrars to ensure the confidentiality of the information they collect and store. The data will be in electronic format," it said in reply to RTI query filed by PTI.

Registrars are typically departments or agencies of the State Government/Union territory, public sector undertakings and other agencies and organisations who interact with residents, in the normal course of implementation of some of their programs, activities or operations.

It includes Rural Development Department (for MNREGS) or Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department (for PDS), insurance companies such as Life Insurance Corporation and banks.

The Authority, which was set up in January 28, 2009, was also facing a manpower crunch as nearly 50 per cent of its total sanctioned strength of 383 were lying vacant.

"UIDAI is a new organisation. The process of filling up the posts was initiated in September 2009. 196 posts have been filled up so far," it said.

According to the RTI response, the vacancy exists almost at all the levels including from the post of Deputy Director General, Deputy Directors, Section Officers, Office Assistants and other supporting staff at both its headquarters in Delhi and regional offices.

The UIDAI said it did not have details of Aadhaar numbers issued to eunuchs and cannot give year-wise details.

"The requisite information is compilation in nature and till date full information have not been received by this authority," the reply added.

The UIDAI, which act as an attached office of the Planning Commission, has issued over one crore Aadhaar numbers and envisages to issue 60 crore such identity by 2014.

Ashwini Shrivastava in New Delhi
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