IIT Kharagpur graduate booked for hacking Aadhaar data

BENGALURU: The Unique Identity Development Authority of India (UIDAI) has lodged a complaint against an IIT-Kharagpur graduate and his mobile-payment company for allegedly accessing its central information depository to create and operate a private app called Aadhaar ‘eKYC Verification'. In a complaint lodged with Bengaluru Police a deputy director at the UIDAI's regional office in Bengaluru accused Abhinav Srivastava and Qarth Technologies Pvt Ltd, which he started on the IIT-Kharagpur campus in 2012, of developing the app to illegally access Aadhaar data.

The UIDAI complaint is linked to the KYC app that was placed by Qarth on Google Play Store late last year with the claim that it would help businesses validate Aaadhar numbers by verifying "customer Aadhaar number, address, mobile number, date of birth on the fly".

According to screenshots of the app - it is no longer available on Google Play Store - it was developed under an initiative called myGov by Qarth. Till June 1, 2017, the app had between 50,000 to 1 lakh users, according to data from the Play Store.

The app also carried a disclaimer: "This is not an official application from Ministry of Unique Identification Authority of India and is no way endorsed by the Government of India. Moreover, we don't store any of your Aadhaar data on our server. The app is well-funded by ads and we don't need to reuse user's Aadhaar data in any form''.

According to UIDAI sources, the app was allegedly accessing Aadhaar data without authorisation, which emerged during internal security processes involving the scanning of the system for usage of authentication data.

Police sources said it was not yet clear how the accused managed to access the central information depository to verify the identities of people through the app. However, an UIDAI official claimed that the loophole could have been left at the end of some field agency involved with collection of Aadhaar data.


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