An all-out war erupted on Twitter after TRAI chairman R S Sharma disclosed his Aadhaar number on the microblogging site and challenged everyone to show how mere knowledge of the unique number could be used to harm him, triggering a deluge of tweets that claimed to disclose his personal details from PAN to mobile number.
Sharma’s tweet evoked an immediate response on social media platform, with one user claiming to have dug up his mobile number using the information given. Some others trolled the TRAI chief for sharing the 12 digit identifier.
A French security expert, who goes by the nickname Elliot Alderson and uses twitter handle @fs0c131y, in a series of tweets caused ripples on the social media, 'leaking' "personal address, DoB, your alternate phone number" and explaining to Sharma, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman, how risky it was to make the Aadhaar number public.
"People managed to get your personal address, DoB and your alternate phone number. I stop here, I hope you will understand why make your Aadhaar number public is not a good idea," Alderson wrote.
The security researched also posted a picture of Sharma with a portion of it blackened. "I supposed this is your wife or daughter next to you."
Sharma, a known defender of Aadhaar, has been maintaining that the unique ID does not violate privacy and the government reserved a right to create such a database of residents since it gives subsidies on state-run welfare schemes.
Giving out his full Aadhaar number, Sharma had tweeted: “Now I give this challenge to you: Show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me!”.
To another users’ comment seeking legal indemnity in case the Aadhaar number was indeed misused, Sharma wrote, “Show me friend! I promise that I will take no action against you”.
When contacted by PTI, Sharma declined to make detailed comment on the matter saying “let the challenge run for some time”.
The high drama played out on the micro-blogging platform just a day after Justice Srikrishna committee came out with its report on data protection where it mooted changes in Aadhaar Act and proposed new safeguards to protect information of Aadhaar holders.
Sharma, former UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) director general, has been an ardent supporter of the Aadhaar programme, vouching for the safety of the system, and dispelling privacy concerns over Aadhaar even during his current tenure as Trai chief.
Meanwhile, Justice Srikrishna panel on data protection has recommended that Aadhaar Act be amended “significantly” to bolster privacy safeguards, and mooted that only public authorities discharging public functions approved by the UIDAI or entities mandated by law be given the right to request for identity authentication.
The report, submitted on Friday , assumes significance given that public and private sectors are collecting and using personal data on an unprecedented scale and for various purposes, and instances of unregulated and arbitrary use, especially that of personal data, have raised concerns about privacy and autonomy of an individual.
Over the last one year, there have also been reports of personal information being allegedly compromised with increasing use of biometric identifier Aadhaar in an array of services, and the Supreme Court has reserved its judgement on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar Act.