A user on Twitter complained last week that when she went to a telecom store to link her Aadhaar number to her SIM card, she found that there were nine other connections already linked to her unique ID. On Sunday, in a tweet replying to the user, the Unique Identification Authority of India, which oversees Aadhaar, told her that “at least” now she knows how many mobiles are linked to her number and asked her to complain against the mobile company to another regulator.
The user, @PRIYARD, wrote that she had gone to an Airtel store to get her Aadhaar linked to the only phone number she has been using since 2000. The government has made Aadhaar-SIM linking mandatory with a March 31 deadline, but the fate of this order will depend on what the Supreme Court decides in the challenges to the Aadhaar project currently being argued in court.
In response, UIDAI’s account wrote that “at least the Aadhaar holder knows how many mobiles are linked to his/her Aadhaar number”. It asked the user to complain to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or the Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring cell of the Department of Telecom. It also added that “in the earlier system, there was no way of knowing how many hundreds of SIM cards were issued on the basis of identity documents submitted by a person without their knowledge”.
Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel said the user has only one connection in their name and Aadhaar details for that number have not been linked.
UIDAI has been under severe questioning of late over the news of a large amount of Aadhaar data that has been easily available, most prominently in the report by The Tribune that revealed that the demographic data of any Aadhaar number was available for a small fee. In the past few weeks, the UIDAI has unveiled new features aimed at keeping Aadhaar numbers more secure, yet questions continue to be raised about the safety of data collected during Aadhaar enrollment. Those questions form the bedrock of some of the challenges against the Aadhaar project in the Supreme Court.
As a result, UIDAI’s response telling the complaining user that “at least” she knows how many connections are linked to her Aadhaar prompted plenty of responses online.