Wikileaks Claims CIA Stealing Aadhaar Data; UIDAI Strongly Denies Breach
CIA is allegedly profiling millions from Aadhaar database.
Last week, WikiLeaks published a controversial memo, claiming that US based CIA is massively hacking users’ profiles via biometric hardware firm Crossmatch’s database.
Now, Crossmatch is a firm which has been approved by UIDAI to provide their hardware for collecting Aadhaar based biometric data as well.
This meant that CIA is profiling millions of Aadhaar database as well, thereby stealing private information of Indians.
A lot of uproar and noise erupted over this accusation by WikiLeaks this weekend.
However, UIDAI has strongly denied any such possibility, and has rubbished WikiLeaks claim.
But, ain’t this a possibility? We explore..
The Accusation: CIA Stealing Aadhaar Data From Crossmatch
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the United States federal government, tasked with gathering, processing, and analysing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (as per Wikipedia)
On Thursday night, WikiLeaks released a memo, wherein they shared some secret documents from ExpressLane project of the CIA. As per the leaked documents by WikiLeaks, CIA is involved in collective massive amount of biometric data of citizens all over the world, and the foundation of this covert info-gathering operation is Crossmatch, a US based company which provides biometric hardware.
WikiLeaks memo read: “The core components of the OTS system are based on products from Cross Match, a US company specializing in biometric software for law enforcement and the Intelligence Community.”
Interestingly, it was Crossmatch which provided data to US Govt., to identify Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, before he was assassinated.
Now, as Crossmatch is an Aadhaar-approved provider of biometric hardware (used for collecting iris scan and fingerprints), doubts rose that CIA is also profiling Indians via Aadhaar database provided by Crossmatch.
Crossmatch Denies Allegations
Facing the heat, Crossmatch immediately informed the media that they don’t have the capability or the technology to gather, or store Aadhaar data collected via their hardware and machines.
John Hinmon, vice president of global marketing at Cross Match Technologies said, “Crossmatch’s fingerprint scanners and software allow end users to capture, store and process those images in their own systems, under security protocols defined by that end user. Typically, these systems are accessible only by trusted ‘administrative users.’ To be clear, this is the case with India UID. All software utilised with our scanners was developed, tested and certified under the direction of India UID,”
He explicitly stated that, “Crossmatch does not capture, store or process in any manner personal private information, such as fingerprint images, collected by any of its customers,”
UIDAI Also Denies Any Such Report
Meanwhile UIDAI, the central Govt. body responsible for protecting Aadhaar data has also strongly denied any such activity from CIA or Crossmatch.
In a statement, UIDAI said, “Some vested interests are trying to spread misinformation that since ‘Cross Match’ is one of many devices which are being used in biometric devices by various registrars and agencies in Aadhaar ecosystem, the biometrics being captured for Aadhaar are allegedly unauthorisedly accessed by others..”
UIDAI also stated that Aadhaar data is protected and externally/internally tested via Standardised Testing Quality Certification (STQC), which means no such leaks can ever happen.
As per UIDAI, there has not been ‘even a single’ case of Aadhaar data theft till now.
It seems that UIDAI has ignored the fact that Govt. has admitted in the past that 210 websites were displaying private Aadhaar data; a simple Google search was able to retrieve thousands of rows of Aadhaar database and crores of Aadhaar data linked with bank accounts has already been leaked in the past.
In light of these past developments, it would be actually surprising if CIA or any other intelligence agency hasn’t yet accumulated Aadhaar data of Indians.
We will keep you updated as we receive more information.