New Delhi (Sputnik) — The government of India is battling in court to prove the legality of its plans to collect biometric data from citizens, prompting American whistleblower Edward Snowden to sound the "mass surveillance" alarm. In his latest tweet, Snowden said that demands to link Aadhaar to various services must be criminalized.
Rarely do former intel chiefs and I agree, but the head of India's RAW writes #Aadhaar is being abused by banks, telcos, and transport not to police entitlements, but as a proxy for identity–an improper gate to service. Such demands must be criminalized. https://t.co/rRSn42XLlQ— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 21, 2018
Edward Snowden also attempted to bust the claims of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which has started an online campaign: #AadhaarMythBuster.
#Aadhaar is an identifier, not a profiling tool.— Aadhaar (@UIDAI) January 17, 2018
Aadhaar database does not keep any information about bank accounts, shares, mutual funds, property details, health records, family details, religion, caste, education etc. #AadhaarMythBuster
That might be true if banks, landlords, hospitals, schools, telephone & internet companies were prohibited by law from asking for your #Aadhaar number. But any Indian can tell you they're asked for their number by non-government entities––and those companies have databases too. https://t.co/WsKC9wR6sj— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 21, 2018
Earlier this month, an Indian journalist faced police reprisal for reporting the vulnerability of Aadhar data. In her report, published by the Tribune, the journalist had claimed it took her less than ten dollars to get access to the details of millions of Indian citizens. Snowden had then said that instead of prosecuting the journalist, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) should be penalized for the alleged leak.
Meanwhile, after attracting a volley of criticism at home and abroad, the UIDAI has introduced new security features such as Virtual IDs to authenticate and verify the Aadhaar numbers. In last three years, various cases of purported data breaches, including duplication of cards and fraudulent bank transactions made using leaked biometric data, have been reported in the media.