Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairperson Ram Sewak Sharma on Saturday shared his Aadhaar number on Twitter, challenging people to show him how their knowledge of the unique identity number could be used to harm him. However, it led to severe backlash on Twitter with several users claiming that they were able to obtain his personal details, such as his PAN and mobile number, using the Aadhaar number.
“My Aadhaar number is.....Now I give this challenge to you: Show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me!” Sharma wrote on Twitter, seeking to debunk the theory that Aadhaar compromises a person’s privacy.
Some Twitter users claimed to have dug out his mobile number, photographs, residential address, date of birth and even chat threads based on his Aadhaar number. Others cautioned him against challenging people in such a way on social media.
“Sir, please do a press conference or provide some legal assurance that you won’t be bothered if anything illegal happens with your Aadhaar,” one user wrote. “Lies have been your habits. So there is no ground on why we should trust your tweet. Then we will show you who we are.”
“Thanks. You did it before others,” another user tweeted. “Sharmaji, everything including the colour of your commonly used underwear and your dates can be pulled out and shared. For biometric, there is a fee involved. No more free lunches. Better luck next time.”
A French cyber security expert, who uses the moniker Elliot Alderson, wrote on Twitter, “People managed to get your personal address, dob [date of birth] and your alternate phone number. I stop here, I hope you will understand why make your #Aadhaar number public is not a good idea.”
However, Sharma continued to engage with Twitter users till Saturday night, and also said that his personal details shared by some users were “fake”. “I am not trying to prove anything,” he added in another tweet. “Please understand that I am merely trying to disabuse the mis-information around Aadhaar.
“...Yeh details koi state scret nahin hain [These details are no state secret],” Sharma told one user and chided them for disclosing an old address, and asked if they wanted his latest address.
He did not verify if the PAN that was revealed was correct. “Let the challenge run for some time,” Sharma told PTI later in the day, refusing to make any detailed comment on the matter.
He denied several users’ claims of victory over “leaking” his personal details. “No I did not challenge them for phone number and other info,” Sharma wrote on Twitter. “I challenged them for causing me harm! So far no success. Wish them luck.”
“Data privacy is a big and very important issue in a digital world. I am one of the most vociferous supporter of that,” Sharma wrote in another tweet. “However, the only thing I am saying is that Aadhaar does not violate privacy.”