American whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been critical of the Indian government’s Aadhaar programme in recent weeks, critiqued it again on Sunday.
Snowden shared an article on the news website The Wire by former Research and Analysis Wing chief KC Verma, who wrote of his experiences trying to link his Aadhaar number to services and the common misconceptions people have about the programme.
“Rarely do former intel chiefs and I agree, but the head of India’s RAW writes Aadhaar is being abused by banks, telcos, and transport not to police entitlements, but as a proxy for identity – an improper gate to service,” Snowden tweeted. “Such demands must be criminalized.”
The former US National Security Agency contractor then disagreed with the claim of the Unique Identification Authority of India that Aadhaar is not a profiling tool, and that the authorities do not store any information about bank accounts, mutual funds, property details, health records.
“That might be true if banks, landlords, hospitals, schools, telephone & internet companies were prohibited by law from asking for your Aadhaar number,” Snowden responded. “But any Indian can tell you they’re asked for their number by non-government entities – and those companies have databases too.”
Snowden then shared an article in the Hindustan Times on the proliferation of independent biometric databases that puts at risk the whole authentication system itself. Government directives to integrate these databases with Aadhaar numbers has only worsened this threat, the daily quoted two unidentified IT administrators as saying.
On January 9, the American whistleblower had said that the journalist from The Tribune, who exposed a possible breach of data in the biometric identification system earlier in the month, deserves “an award, not an investigation”.