WikiLeaks reportedly have claimed that the private party that provided devices for recording Aadhaar’s biometric data may have misappropriated the sensitive data. The cyber spy related to Aadhaar may have been done by the US-based technology provider Cross Match Technologies Inc. at the behest of CIA, the top intelligence agency in US.
In 2011, Cross Match Technologies that provided biometric identity solutions were the recipient of certification from Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). UIDAI is legislative body to oversee the data gathering for Aadhaar, while one of first biometric devices was supplied by Cross Match Technologies.
Wikileaks claims that CIA conducted a covert operation named “Express Lane” to pry data of other agencies, such as, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency. WikiLeaks released a statement saying “The OTS (Office of Technical Services), a branch within the CIA, has a biometric collection system that is provided to liaison services around the world—with the expectation for sharing of the biometric takes collected on the systems.”
WikiLeaks also linked CIA with Cross Match Technologies that snooped into data of 1.2 million Indian citizens. The WikiLeaks tweet reads like this: “Have CIA spies already stolen #India’s national ID card database?” A few minutes later, it tweeted: “Has the CIA already stolen India’s #Aadhaar database?”
The incumbent government denied the claim, “The reports do not have any basis in fact. Aadhaar data is safely encrypted and is not accessible to any other agency”. However, WikiLeaks’ statement claim otherwise in their official website, “The OTS (Office of Technical Services), a branch within the CIA, has a biometric collection system that is provided to liaison services around the world — with the expectation for sharing of the biometric takes collected on the systems. But this ‘voluntary sharing’ obviously does not work or is considered insufficient by the CIA, because ExpressLane is a covert information collection tool that is used by the CIA to secretly exfiltrate data collections from such systems provided to liaison services.”
If the WikiLeaks’ claims even have some truth in it, is a serious breach of privacy of the individuals whose data has been leaked. Supreme Court recently held that right to privacy is a fundamental right of every Indian citizen. This privacy has been compromised by the Modi government along with spending crores of rupees for Aadhaar Card, whose validity is still under question. It poses danger to the people whose information has been comprised, as the foreign secret agencies can do anything with the data and the consequence of which will befall on the innocent persons whose data is used. Probably the mass of illiterate and semi educated people will not understand or appreciate the danger lurking, as a result there is no eyebrows raised in this country. However, had it happen in a developed nation, it would have created considerable furor and angst amongst the population.