Is Ankit Fadia really brand ambassador for Digital India? No one knows

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 29, 2015 15:16 IST
Ankit Fadia

Is self-proclaimed ethical hacker Ankit Fadia really the brand ambassador for the government’s Digital India initiative? Right now, it seems like no one knows for sure.

Fadia, of course, claims he is. On Monday, he posted pictures on his official Facebook page saying he was “humbled and honored to be appointed as one of the Brand Ambassador’s to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India Initiative”. One of the pictures was an official looking certificate signed by former Department of Electronics and IT Secretary R. S. Sharma, which said that the government was pleased to appoint Fadia as Digital India brand ambassador.

Humbled and honored to be appointed as one of the Brand Ambassadors to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India initiative :)

Posted by Ankit Fadia Official Page on Sunday, September 27, 2015

On Tuesday morning, the government issued a press release denying any such appointment. “This is to clarify that there has been no such move to appoint a brand ambassador as reported,” said the statement, which was published on the website of the Press Information Bureau.

But there is now a twist in the tale: it seems that the government has now taken down the statement, since it is no longer accessible on the website.

Despite the confusion, Fadia told the Huffington Post that he was the first person to be chosen as the brand ambassador, but wouldn’t clarify if he was getting paid for his role.

“I am going to help the government with all their Digital India initiatives and the programmes that they hold,” he said.

30-year-old Fadia’s claim to fame was defacing the website of computer magazine CHIP, when he was 17. The claim has since been debunked by Charles Assisi, who used to be the editor of CHIP, in a 2013 article on Forbes. Assisi wrote in his piece addressed to Fadia:

“As your story goes, after you defaced CHIP, you felt guilty and wrote to the editor telling him you were responsible for the act. The gentleman apparently called you up and said somebody as talented as you ought to be working for CHIP. When you confessed you were only 13, the editor asked you to wait until you turn 18 and then sign up with him.

I used to be the editor of CHIP and know the magazine’s website was never defaced. Nor do I remember offering you a job. Like I told you earlier, those were the days I thought you a skiddie.”

Fadia has been a self-proclaimed internet security expert whose claims have been debunked many times over the years. Fadia had claimed he had helped the FBI crack an Al Qaida email a few years ago, and had also claimed that he had been contacts by the CBI to help with a case.

He is the author of 17 books on cyber security and has faced multiple plagiarism charges for his work

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