The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Friday responded to the controversy surrounding the leak of voter’s data for a targeted campaign by the BJP in Puducherry. Calling the allegations "factually incorrect,” the UIDAI said that it has never shared any data with any entity other than its Authorised User Agencies. “They are strictly prohibited from sharing any information about residents' Aadhaar detail," an official release from UIDAI said.
The BJP in Puducherry has been accused of accessing Aadhaar details of voters to send them messages with invites to WhatsApp groups for sharing campaigns ahead of the elections in the Union Territory.
"The recent allegations that UIDAI has shared residents' details in bulk for purposes other than provided in the Aadhaar Act are factually incorrect. UIDAI is committed to protecting the privacy of residents always," it added.
Information collected by UIDAI is not used for any purpose other than generation of Aadhaar numbers and authentication, it said. "Any disclosure of information (other than core biometric information), including identity information or authentication records, can only be made pursuant to an order of a Judge of a High Court, and that too after giving an opportunity of hearing to both UIDAI and the concerned Aadhaar number holder as per Section 31 of the Act," the release added.
The Madras High Court, earlier this week, was hearing a plea filed by the state President of DYFI, who accused BJP of using unauthorised access to Aadhaar data to target voters at a booth level. The case relates to bulk SMSes allegedly sent by the Puducherry BJP unit to voters’ mobile phones with invite links to WhatsApp groups at the booth level. Following this, the court directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to file a report by Friday on the matter.
When this case came up for hearing on Friday, the ECI informed the court that the BJP had not sought the commission’s permission to canvass for votes through bulk SMSes. The judges then ordered the UIDAI and ECI to investigate further and posted the case on March 31.
(With inputs from PTI)