February 3, 2017 -
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government agency in charge of Aadhaar, has shut down 24 fake apps and websites offering Aadhaar-based services by illegally charging users, according to a report by BGR.
UIDAI terminated 12 websites and 12 mobile apps available on the Google Play Store, while another 26 illegal websites and apps have also been flagged for deletion.
These apps and websites were reportedly charging for services which are otherwise free to the public, such as downloading an Aadhaar card or checking the status of its generation.
Through these practices, the apps and websites were illegally obtaining Aadhaar card number or enrolment details of the public, the organization said.
“UIDAI has not authorised the owners of these mobile applications or websites to extend any Aadhaar related services on its behalf”, said Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of UIDAI, adding that the authority is considering taking action against the perpetrators.
The Aadhaar Card includes the cardholder’s biographical information including residence, age, and contact, and the registration process involves biometric authentication.
The UIDAI said that Aadhaar-related information can only be shared following specific procedures outlined in the Aadhaar Act, 2016, adding that any violation of these rules are punishable.
The Act states that any entity that is not authorized by UIDAI and collects Aadhaar-related information is punishable if it downloads, copies or extracts any data from the Central Identities Data or Repository or stores the data in any removable storage format.
The UIDAI also issued a public warning about unauthorized websites and mobile app providers who are exploiting the Aadhaar logo as part of their branding to convey a sense of authenticity.
Although these scams have occurred in the past, the stakes are much higher considering that many Indian residents’ banks, LPG cylinders, passports, and mobile wallets are linked to their Aadhaar numbers.
Last month, UIDAI said it expects to make it mandatory for manufacturers to embed the Aadhaar encryption key into biometric devices using Aadhaar authentication