The UIDAI on Sunday asserted that the personal details of Trai chief R S Sharma being put out on Twitter were not from the Aadhaar database or its servers, and that "so called hacked information" was easily available with a simple search on Google and other sites, without using the 12-digit unique identity number.
The UIDAI jumped into the debate following a full-blown war of words on Twitter between Trai Chairman RS Sharma and some users over the potential of Aadhaar number being misused.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman on Saturday shared his Aadhaar number publicly, challenging anyone to show how mere knowledge of the number can be misused to harm him. The move had triggered a tsunami of tweets with the Twitterati claiming to disclose Sharma's personal details - from PAN to mobile number.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the UIDAI said: "...any information published on Twitter about the said individual...RS Sharma was not fetched from Aadhaar database or UIDAI's servers. In fact, this so called 'hacked' information (about Sharma's personal details such as his address, date of birth, photo, mobile number, e-mail, etc.) was already available in the public domain as he being a public servant for decades and was easily available on Google and various other sites by a simple search without Aadhaar number."
Rubbishing all claims that personal details of Sharma were dug up using his Aadhaar number, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said it "condemns such malicious attempts by few individuals to malign the world's largest unique identity project - Aadhaar".
Many users had claimed that they got Sharma's personal details "by hacking Aadhaar database", but added such a claim was "farce" and that no such information about Sharma has been fetched from either its severs or Aadhaar database. The Aadhaar database is safe, the UIDAI added. "This is merely cheap publicity by these unscrupulous elements who try to attract attention by creating such fake news," it alleged.
Anyone can google or tap other sources and find out Sharma's personal details without Aadhaar, UIDAI said, pointing out that the Trai chief mobile number is available on NIC website as he was, at one point, the IT Secretary.
Similarly, other details like date of birth is available in the civil list of IAS officers kept in public domain, while his address is on Trai website given his current role. The email id may be available in public domain too, it added.
"They clubbed all these inputs and claimed that they have managed to breach Aadhaar database and got his personal details, which is completely false," the statement said.
The UIDAI said that given the connected digital world, various search engines such as Google, can throw up personal data "without Aadhaar" and a profile can be made.
"It is reiterated that in this case...no data has been fetched using his Aadhaar number from UIDAI's servers or Aadhaar database. One could have just googled his name (without Aadhaar number), visited a few other websites and got most of the details which are being shown on twitter," UIDAI added.
The Aadhaar issuing body argued that people usually give PAN or mobile number at many places, and noted: "Someone can pick other personal data from different websites as he gets to know his PAN/mobile number".
"Can anyone demand on this basis that PAN (permanent account number) number is unsafe and should be abolished? Or, can say that it is the online world and online search which help gather information from different sources and create a profile and therefore, online search should be prohibited? Of course, this is not the answer," the statement said.
Responding to the open challenge by Sharma on Saturday, many on Twitter claimed victory over 'leaking' his personal details but the Trai chief has maintained in multiple tweets and replies that the challenge had never been about phone numbers and other information but for causing harm using knowledge of his Aadhaar number.