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IT firm did not steal Aadhaar data to help Telugu Desam, says UIDAI

The Telangana government, in the first week of March, had filed a criminal case against the IT Grid (India) Private Limited following a complaint from one Lokeshwar Reddy, believed to be an activist of the YSR Congress party.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2019 16:56 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Telugu Desam Party,Telangana,UIDAI
The UIDAI clarified that mere possession and storage of Aadhaar numbers of people did not put the Aadhaar holders under any harm in any manner whatsoever.(AFP PHOTO)

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has said that no data was stolen from its servers by any company in connection with the alleged theft of Aadhaar data belonging to 7.82 crore residents of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by a Hyderabad-based firm. The firm was reportedly trying to help the Telugu Desam Party in the recent elections.

The Telangana government, in the first week of March, had filed a criminal case against the IT Grid (India) Private Limited following a complaint from one Lokeshwar Reddy, believed to be an activist of the YSR Congress party.

The company was charged with gaining access to Aadhaar data of people in the two Telugu states and using the same to help the TDP approach the voters through its Seva Mitra mobile application. The Telangana government also appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by senior IPS officer Stephen Ravindra to probe the case. The company’s managing director Dakavaram Ashok has since been at large.

In a statement on Wednesday, the UIDAI said its Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) and servers were completely safe and fully secure and no illegal access had been made to its CIDR and no data was stolen from its servers. “The SIT of the Telangana police has not found any evidence to show that the Aadhaar numbers, names and addresses of the people have been obtained by stealing them from UIDAI services,” it said.

The central agency said the IT Grids (India) might have obtained the details directly from individuals for providing services to consumers like other service providers, which are supposed to use the information for their specific purposes. “We have requested the SIT to investigate for what purpose the Aadhar data was collected, used and stored by the company and whether any provisions of the Aadhaar Act have been violated,” it said.

The UIDAI further clarified that mere possession and storage of Aadhaar numbers of people did not put the Aadhaar holders under any harm in any manner whatsoever. “For accessing any Aadhaar-based services, biometrics or One Time Password (OTP) is also required,” it said.

Addressing a rally during the recent election campaign at Rajahmundry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu of indulging in stealing personal data of the people for his political gains.

On Thursday, TDP’s official spokesperson Lanka Dinakar said in Vijayawada that the UIDAI clarification completely nailed the malicious propaganda by the YSRC and the BJP against the TDP on data theft. “In fact, the Telangana government had confiscated the voters’ data collected by the TDP through Seva Mitra app and passed it on to the opposition parties,” he alleged.

The SIT, which confiscated hard discs and other devices from the IT Grids during its raids, handed over the same to the forensic science laboratory for examining. “Preliminary investigations have revealed that the company had developed the Seva Mitra mobile application by integrating the digital data of voter IDs, Aadhaar and details of beneficiaries of various state government schemes so as to use the same in wooing the voters,” an official familiar with the development said.

The SIT had booked a case against Dakavaram Ashok under Sections 120B (Criminal conspiracy), 379 (Theft), 420 (Cheating), 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of IPC, along with Sections 66 (B) and 72 of IT Act.

First Published: Apr 18, 2019 16:56 IST