Days after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman RS Sharma created a storm on Twitter by posting his Aadhaar number and throwing an open daring challenge to people asking them to harm him using the number, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) late Tuesday advised people to refrain from publicly sharing their Aadhaar numbers on social media and “posing challenges” to others.
In a series of tweets, UIDAI issued an advisory saying such activities were uncalled for and “are not in accordance with the law”.
“People are advised to refrain from publicly putting their Aadhaar numbers on internet and social media and posing challenges to others,” it tweeted.
Without naming Sharma, the UIDAI said the advisory was being issued with reference to “some news items appearing on social media reporting few people publicly posting their Aadhaar numbers on internet and social media and posing challenges to others”.
People are advised to refrain from publicly putting their Aadhaar numbers on internet and social media and posing challenges to others. 1/n
— Aadhaar (@UIDAI) July 31, 2018
TRAI chief RS Sharma had last week tweeted his 12-digit unique Aadhaar number, asking if it had made him vulnerable to any security risk. Some users had thereafter “leaked” his personal details claiming that they had been “hacked” with the help of the number.
“Such activities are uncalled for and should be refrained as these are not in accordance with the law. Aadhaar is a unique identity which can be authenticated to prove one’s identity for various services, benefits and subsidies,” UIDAI tweeted.
Asking people not to display or publish their Aadhaar number in public, the authority said in the statement, “In our regular media campaigns, we have been consistently making people aware not to display or publish or share their Aadhaar number in public domain. We emphasise that people should not display or publish their Aadhaar number in public.”
It added: “Aadhaar number is personally sensitive information like bank account number, passport number, PAN number, etc., which should be strictly shared only on a need basis for a legitimate use for establishing identity and for legitimate transactions. Also, as per the Aadhaar Act, 2016 and IT (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011 and Justice Srikrishna’s proposed Data Protection Bill, personally sensitive information should not be published or shared publicly.”
The advisory said indiscriminate and unwanted publication of any personally sensitive information, whether Aadhaar or any other, might render the particular person vulnerable, and therefore should be avoided.
The authority also said doing Aadhaar authentication through somebody else’s Aadhaar number or using someone else’s Aadhaar number for any purpose might amount to impersonation and thereby constituting a criminal offence under the Aadhaar Act and the Indian Penal Code.
“Any person indulging in such acts or abetting or inciting others to do so makes themselves liable for prosecution and penal action under the law. Therefore, people should refrain from such acts,” UIDAI tweeted.