In a letter to the Centre former Secretary, Government of India, EAS Sarma sought to draw the attention of the authorities to the unauthorised use of Aadhar data by ITGrids Pvt Ltd. and its possible link to TDP’s Seva Mitra app in Andhra Pradesh. Quoting from a newspaper report, Sarma pointed out that digital records of Aadhar cards and voter IDs of more than 7.82 crore citizens of Telangana and AP were found to have been in the possession of IT Grids India Ltd and sought action in the matter.
The former senior civil servant quoted from the newspaper report drawing the government’s attention to the matter involving this company which was also facing data theft charges developed TDP’s Seva Mitra app. The party had integrated the same data in the app used by its cadre for advancing electoral prospects, the report further said. Sarma pointed out that there is ‘serious breach of public trust reposed in both UIDAI and ECI.’
Seeking action against those in the UIDAI and AP government involved in this data theft, the former senior IAS official said that they would be forced to seek judicial intervention if the government does not act in the matter.
Here’s the full text of his letter.
14-40-4/1 Gokhale Road
Shri A P Sawhney
Ministry of Information Technology
Govt of India
Dear Shri Sawhney,
Please refer to my letter dated 3-3-2019 (enclosed) on unauthorised use of Aadhar data by ITGrids Pvt Ltd. and its possible link to a political party’s App in Andhra Pradesh.
Enclosed is a report that appeared today in the local edition of the Hindu ( “IT Grids database almost akin to UIDAI data”) which indicates that the Telangana police have found that “over 7.82 crore digital records of Aadhaar data and Voter IDs belonging to individuals of both the Telugu States was found in possession of IT Grids (India) Pvt Ltd.”. The report further indicates that “the firm which is facing data theft charges developed TDP’s Seva Mitra app and integrated the same data in the app used by the party cadre for advancing electoral prospects”.
This is far too serious an allegation that neither your Ministry nor UIDAI nor Election Commission of India (ECI) can afford to ignore.
Apparently, there has been a serious breach of the public trust reposed in both UIDAI and ECI. It is a case of violation of individual privacy by the authorities, committed either deliberately or otherwise. Both UIDAI and ECI need to provide satisfactory explanations to the people of AP and Telangana, irrespective of which private company has stolen the data and which political party has misused it. Neither UIDAI nor ECI can pretend that they have no responsibility whatsoever in this sad state of affairs.
I am surprised that, despite my earlier letter, your Ministry has not cared to review the appointment of Shri J Satyanarayana who is the Chairman of UIDAI and concurrently a senior Adviser in E-Governance & IT to the TDP government in Andhra Pradesh. While I have no intention of questioning the integrity of the officer, your Ministry cannot gloss over the conflict of interest as already pointed out by me in my earlier letter.
From the latest news report, it appears that the local UIDAI officers in Hyderabad have lodged a police complaint against IT-Grids but that is not adequate. Without UIDAI officers’ connivance, IT-Grids would not have come in possession of 7.82 crores digital records and Voter IDs, violating all norms of the privacy of the individuals. I therefore feel that a case should also be filed against all those in UIDAI who could have connived with the private company. If any political party is responsible, it should also be booked. Similarly, all those officers in AP govt who could have facilitated this data theft and breach of the public trust should be proceeded against.
If your Ministry fails to address these concerns. some of us will be constrained to seek judicial intervention.
E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI
Earlier in early March, EAS Sarma had written to the Centre about the appointment of J Satyanarayana as the part-time Chairman of UIDAI. Sarma referred to the conflict of interest with respect to appointments since ‘Satyanarayana is concurrently a senior Adviser in E-Governance & IT to the TDP government in Andhra Pradesh’, he observed. Sarma in his letter, flagged the issue of conflict of interest in the matter.
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