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News18 » Tech
2-min read

TRAI Chief Continues to Face Fallout Over Aadhaar Tweet Row; His Phone Battery is The Latest Victim

The Aadhaar Authentication request OTPs being generated by unknown people is hampering the TRAI chief’s ability to use this phone.

Vishal Mathur | News18.com@vishalmathur85

Updated:July 31, 2018, 4:29 PM IST
TRAI Chief Continues to Face Fallout Over Aadhaar Tweet Row; His Phone Battery is The Latest Victim
The Aadhaar Authentication request OTPs being generated by unknown people is hampering the TRAI chief’s ability to use this phone.

The fallout of the tweet by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Ram Sewak Sharma, posted on Friday, can still be felt. It seems that the Twitterati are still not letting go of the dare to prove how a 12-digit Aadhaar number can be misused and cause trouble as well as potential harm for the owner. As the saga unfolds, the latest is that the TRAI chairman Sharma’s phone is now facing the brunt. In his latest tweet posted late last night from the account @rssharma3, Sharma says, “Friends. Let's reconvene tomorrow. Small request, the failed Aadhaar Authentication requests (OTP's) are really draining my battery. I'm always ready for constructive discussions. If you have any suggestions please share.”

It was late last week when Sharma had shared a tweet, which said, “My Aadhaar number is 7621 XXXX XXXX Now I give this challenge to you: Show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me!” He went on to state that he was posting this as an individual citizen of the country. However, the Twitterati clearly couldn’t completely ignore Sharma’s official position too, as the chairman of the telecom regulator and the former director general of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The UIDAI is the agency in charge of Aadhaar database which has information about all Indian citizens who have signed up for Aadhaar.

What has ensued is nothing short of mayhem. Sharma’s phone number, bank details etc. have been revealed online. However, in multiple tweets since, Sharma has maintained that no harm has been done to him. One Twitter user even claimed to have used his Aadhaar details and ordered a smartphone for him, on cash-on-delivery of course.

"Sharma's mobile number is available on National Informatics Centre's (NIC) website as he was once Secretary IT. His date of birth is available in the Civil List of IAS Officers which is kept in public domain and his address is on Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) website because he is the Chairman. They clubbed all these inputs and claimed to have breached the Aadhaar database. Aadhaar database is fully safe and secure and no such information about Mr Sharma has been fetched from UIDAI's servers or Aadhaar database," said UIDAI in an official statement, as it waded into the debate.

Aadhaar is quite the talking point in India these days. The widespread use of Aadhaar, while it is debatable whether this was mandatory or optional, has made Aadhaar a completely different entity from what it was a few years ago. The 12-digit number is now proving to be the default means of identification demanded by banks, mobile phone companies, filing income tax returns and more. The matter is currently sub judice, and the Supreme Court of India is yet to pronounce a verdict on various aspects of Aadhaar.

Just last week, the Justice BN Srikrishna-led committee, formed with the idea to create a powerful data protection law in India, submitted its draft bill to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY). The Data Protection Bill 2018 has also recommended that the Aadhaar Act “needs to be amended significantly to bolster privacy protections and ensure autonomy of the UIDAI.”

Also read: The Draft Data Protection Bill 2018: You do Not Own The Data That You Have Shared

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