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(Updated) Information Security Practices of Aadhaar (or lack thereof): A documentation of public availability of Aadhaar Numbers with sensitive personal financial information

Posted by Amber Sinha and Srinivas Kodali at May 01, 2017 01:20 PM |
Since its inception in 2009, the Aadhaar project has been shrouded in controversy due to various questions raised about privacy, technological issues, welfare exclusion, and security concerns. In this study, we document numerous instances of publicly available Aadhaar Numbers along with other personally identifiable information (PII) of individuals on government websites. This report highlights four government projects run by various government departments that have made sensitive personal financial information and Aadhaar numbers public on the project websites.

Download the Updated Aadhaar Report and the Statement of Clarification


We are grateful to Yesha Paul and VG Shreeram for research support.


In the last month, there have been various reports pointing out instances of the public disclosure of Aadhaar number through various databases, accessible easily on Twitter under the hashtag #AadhaarLeaks. Most of these public disclosures reported contain personally identifiable information of beneficiaries or subjects of the non UIDAI databases containing Aadhaar numbers of individuals along with other personal identifiers. All of these public disclosures are symptomatic of a significant and potentially irreversible privacy harm, however we wanted to point out another large fallout of such events, those that create a ripe opportunity for financial fraud. For this purpose, we identified benefits disbursement schemes which would require its databases to store financial information about its subjects. During our research, we encountered numerous instances of publicly available Aadhaar Numbers along with other PII of individuals on government websites. In this paper, we highlight four government projects run by various government departments with publicly available financial data and Aadhaar numbers. Our research is focussed largely on the data published by or pertaining to where Aadhaar data is linked with banking information. We chose major government programmes using Aadhaar for payments and banking transactions. We found sensitive and personal data and information very easily accessible on these portals.

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