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Details of over a million Aadhaar numbers published on Jharkhand govt website

Jharkhand has over 1.6 million pensioners, 1.4 million of whom have seeded their bank accounts with their Aadhaar numbers to avail of direct bank transfers for their monthly pensions. Their personal details are now freely available, writes www.hindustantimes.com

Digital identities of more than a million citizens have been compromised by a programming error on a website maintained by the Jharkhand Directorate of Social Security.

The glitch revealed the names, addresses, Aadhaar numbers and bank account details of the beneficiaries of Jharkhand’s old age pension scheme.

Jharkhand has over 1.6 million pensioners, 1.4 million of whom have seeded their bank accounts with their Aadhaar numbers to avail of direct bank transfers for their monthly pensions.

Their personal details are now freely available to anyone who logs onto the website, a major privacy breach at a time when the Supreme Court, cyber-security experts and opposition politicians have questioned a government policy to make Aadhaar mandatory to get benefits of a variety of government schemes and services.

The publishing of Aadhaar numbers is in contravention of Section 29 (4) of the Aadhaar Act. Earlier this year, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) blacklisted an Aadhaar service provider for 10 years for publishing the Aadhaar number of MS Dhoni, former captain of the Indian cricket team.

The authority has also filed at least eight police complaints in the past month against private parties for “illegally collecting” Aadhaar numbers of citizens – information that the Jharkhand government has now put into the public domain. UIDAI did not respond to queries sent by HT.

At present, the Supreme Court is considering the legality of a government decision to make it mandatory to provide an Aadhaar number when filing income tax returns.