A Simple Google Search Will Reveal Thousands Of Rows Of Aadhaar Data – Your Privacy Is At Risk And You Should Be Very Worried!
We had shared a number of times how Aadhaar data can be misused for fraud, identity theft and fake transactions which will cost you financial, emotional and mental burden.
We had hoped that Govt. of India will consider privacy as of utmost importance, and implement a mechanism which will stop its misuse.
But it seems Govt. is yet to take a lesson here.
In a blog post published on Medium, by a Twitter user named St_Hill reveals a simple Google search, which will churn out thousands of rows of Aadhaar data of Indian citizens. And this should worry you.
And prompt you to take some action.
Google Search Is Revealing Aadhaar Data – Privacy Is At Stake
The user demonstrated by a simple Google query like “Aadhaar number name filetype:xls -uidai” will reveal thousands of Excel sheets, which contain sensitive data about Indian citizens.
This is a special Google query to search only Excel files, and once it is populated with keywords such as Aadhaar number, PAN etc, then Google will humbly show you the files which contain these data.
As we saw it firsthand, various Govt. departments, educational institutions and others have openly posted sensitive data of Indian citizens on their website, which is easily indexed by Google, and thrown open to all.
And not everyone who is searching these queries is a reporter or an innocent citizen. Chance are high that several among them are hackers as well, who must be having a party right now, as thousands of rows of Aadhaar data is out there, in the open, ready to be exploited and misused.
Until yesterday night, these were the Govt. departments and educational institutions which were easily showing up sensitive data of Aadhaar numbers, Bank account, PAN Card, date of birth and more on Google search:
- Website of Joint Director, Higher Education, Konkan Region, Panvel.
- Website of Tripura Board of Secondary Education
- http://mhrd.gov.in/ (Ministry of Human Resource Development)
- MHRD again.
- National Payments Corporation of India
- DHLF Pramerica Life insurance
- APOnline.gov.in (Andhra Govt)
- Ambedkar Institute of Technology
- Employee Provident Fund, Kerala
- Zila Parishad, Maharashtra Govt.
Govt. Is Itself Doing Illegal Activities With Aadhaar Data?
Section 29 of the Aadhaar Act (paragraph 4) very clearly states that “no Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations”.
And if we interpret this Aadhaar Rule, then the Govt. departments mentioned above are clearly doing an illegal activity by posting sensitive Aadhaar data online, for all.
Not only these Excel files contain Aadhaar number, but also sensitive information like bank account details, IFSC code, phone numbers, email ids and more.
One such document by a State Govt. dept from Maharashtra has information about 1 lakh citizens, and another by an educational institution has student’ data along with Aadhaar details.
How It May Harm You?
A small example: Last year in November, immediately after demonetization was announced, an elderly couple from Sunnambukara Street in Trichy were in rude shock when they discovered that their Aadhaar number cannot be used for exchanging old currencies.
When they went to the bank, the officials informed them that their Aadhaar number has already been used for exchanging currencies.
And this is just one example of how your Aadhaar number can be misused. Combine Aadhaar number with PAN Card, Bank account, IFSC Code, Phone number and name, then it becomes a heist. A robbery of your personal information, ready to be exploited, murdered by hackers.
Misusing Aadhaar data is clearly a punishable offence, as mentioned in the Aadhaar Bill, but still, frauds are increasingly happening using (or misusing) the data. Although Govt. is taking some action against those websites/apps which are misusing Aadhaar data, but it seems this is not enough.
Not yet, as Google is able to give such data to a single search query.
Do share your views on this burning issue by commenting right here.
Request: Please don’t misuse the Aadhaar related data which is available right now on Google search. Misusing Aadhaar data is a punishable offence, and you have been warned.