Talking to reporters here, AICC spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, ‘we have said repeatedly that the biggest assault on individual privacy has occurred under the watch of the Narendra Modi Government. Not only people’s money, but people’s privacy is also in question.
Even as startling revelations that the Narendra Modi app, run by the BJP is sharing data of millions of users with American companies emerge, the Modi Government mocks and flouts the ‘Right to Privacy’ with brazen impunity.
While the Prime Minister’s Office, PMO India app, asks users to voluntarily part with their identity on 14 data points, the NaMo app asks for a sweeping access to 22 data points. The NaMo app records audio, video, contacts of your friends and family and even tracks your location via GPS. No wonder, Modi ji is like the ‘Bigg Boss’ who with brazenness likes to spy on Indians. The BJP whose IT (Identity Theft?) Minister does daily press conferences on the issue of data security and democracy, has much to answer to the people of India on the unscrupulous means by which Shri Narendra Modi’s personal app is accessing data and passing on data of more than 50 lakh Indians,’ he alleged.
Describing the BJP allegations that the Congress was indulging in ‘data theft’ through its mobile app, Mr Singhvi said. ‘the Modi Government is resorting to deflectionary and diversionary tactics. The Congress application had just 15,000 downloads against the 50 lakh Indians who downloaded the NaMo app. Also, the Congress application was discontinued as most of the users wanted to register offline.’
Accusing Mr Modi of misusing the Prime Minister’s position to build personal database with data on millions of Indians via the NaMo app promoted by the government, Mr Singhvi said, ‘Why does Mr Modi, in his own book ‘Exam Warriors’ urge you to download the NaMo app. Is he now planning to snoop in on minors? Mr Modi is misusing the Prime Minister’s position to build personal database with data on millions of Indians via the NaMo app promoted by Government. If as PM he wants to use tech to communicate with India, there is no problem in that.
But use the official PMO app for it, not the NaMo app. This data belongs to India, not to Mr Modi. Shockingly, data of atleast 13 lakh NCC cadets which include personal mobile phone numbers and email ID’s are being given to the Prime Minister’s Office for an interaction.’
Citing in this regard the report of a committee of experts appointed by the government on the issue of data protection, Mr Singhvi said, ‘importantly, a Government appointed Committee of Experts (CoE) to look into a framework for data protection, headed by Justice (retd) BN Srikrishna has made scathing observations in a paper released in November 2017, against the Government and has shockingly implied (according to the media reports) that the Modi Government is collecting personal data illegally. The committee, which is currently in the process of conducting consultations, has also considered the SC judgment on privacy, says in its paper “The public and private sector are collecting and using personal data on an unprecedented scale. While data can be put to beneficial use, unregulated and arbitrary use of data, especially personal data, raise concerns relating to centralisation of databases, profiling of individuals, increased surveillance and a consequent erosion of individual autonomy.”
Alleging that under the Modi Government, not only the personal data of citizens was under serious threat, but there were multiple reports of data breaches in banks, Mr Singhvi said, ‘astonishingly, under the Modi Government, not only the personal data of citizens is under serious threat, but multiple breaches in the banks. In an atmosphere where every single day there has been a bank fraud worth thousands of crores of rupees being reported, have resulted in one single question – how safe is our money in banks?
Banks and PSU’s have reported multiple breaches in recent past. A newspaper report on Monday said two online security experts have claimed that the Aadhaar database of two public-sector enterprises leaked select data and the vulnerability was fixed only a month after attention was drawn to it. This exposes their names, the 12-digit Aadhaar number and information of the services they have linked their Aadhaar card to. These services include bank details, policy details and other private information. This was corroborated by the UIDAI statement released on Sunday.
“It was left up there for more than a month — even though it had been reported to them directly,” claim the security experts. On February 23, 2018 a report had claimed that there was a data breach which had hit the the Punjab National Bank, whereby sensitive credit, debit card details of 10,000 customers were leaked. Quick Heal, a reputed software company in October 2017 had also claimed that there was a massive data breach in 6,000 government offices including banks. Earlier in 2016, as per media reports — 32 lakh debit/credit cards of various Indian banks were compromised. The worst-hit was the State Bank of India along with certain private banks.’
He also charged the present Government of breach of Aadhaar data of individuals. ‘In April 2014, the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had attacked Aadhaar and the UPA Government on its possible ‘security threat’. Life has now come full circle for the BJP. Just like numerous other issues, their blatant hypocrisy on Aadhaar is exposed. In January, this year, when a reputed newspaper in a sting exposed how 1 crore Aadhaar details can be accessed in just 10 minutes, by paying just Rs 500 in Chandigarh, the UIDAI had then filed an FIR against the reporter. Now the editor of the reputed media house has also been replaced.
We have seen it in May 4, 2017, when the Modi Government is on record in Supreme Court, accepting data breach in the Aadhaar scheme. Now the Attorney General in Supreme Court, while arguing that Aadhaar data remains safe and secure, says that the Aadhaar data remains secure behind a complex that has 13-ft high and five-feet thick walls, which is laughable and ludicrous, to say the least.
On November 20, 2017, the UIDAI had accepted on record that –“More than 210 central and state government websites publicly displayed details such as names and addresses of Aadhaar beneficiaries”. Earlier too, ‘Centre for Internet and Society’, a Bengaluru-based organisation (CIS) in a study published on May 1, 2017, had found that data of more than 130 million Aadhaar card holders has been leaked from just four government websites. Therefore this is a serious issue. Clearly, neither our money, nor our Aadhaar details or our personal details are secure under the Modi Government.’