Aadhaar database can't be hacked even after a billion attempts, says Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

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Aadhaar database can't be hacked even after a billion attempts, says Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

Lauding the Modi government for "taking rapid steps in making India more digital", the minister claimed that the Aadhaar authorities conduct close to one crore authentications every second.

There have been several reported instances of Aadhaar data breaches that have hogged public attention in the past couple of year. But according to Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, even a billion attempts to hack the biometrics-based database will not be successful.

According to Hindustan Times, speaking at an event to launch Goa's IT policy, Prasad further pointed out that the Aadhaar data did not contain any information that could be used by trolls. "It contains my photograph, (that) I'm a male and my permanent Patna address. What does it not contain? My religion, my income, my medical record, my caste, my community and my other private information by which I can be trolled," he said, displaying his pocket-sized unique identification card at the function.

"But the system contains my fingerprint and my iris (scan), kept in safe, secure condition which cannot be broken even with the billionth effort you seek to make," he claimed, adding, "Aadhaar is a home grown technology... and is completely safe and secure. With proper parliamentary approval of the law, [it is] so tough that even if I disclose my fingerprint and iris to unknown persons, except in case of national security, I can be prosecuted".

Lauding the Modi government for "taking rapid steps in making India more digital", India Today reported that the union minister claimed that the Aadhaar authorities conduct close to one crore authentications every second. "Do you know how many authentications we do every three seconds? Three crore. Do you know how many bank accounts are linked to Aadhaar? 80 crore accounts," he said. "For a population of 130 crore, India is home to 121 crore mobile phones, 450 million smartphones, 50 crore plus Internet (connections) and 122 crore Aadhaar cards."

Indeed, as the government has often reiterated, nearly every adult in the country now boasts a 12-digit biometric number. It has successfully, and rapidly, expanded the Aadhaar net even as the Supreme Court is hearing petitions challenging its constitutional validity. After 38 days of hearings spread over 4 months - making it the second longest case to be argued in India's constitution history - the apex court had reserved judgment in the Aadhaar case in early May as it closed down for a 44-day summer break. The judgement is still awaited.

Prasad reportedly also spoke about the government's thrust on digital inclusion and the "transformative nature" of initiatives like Digital India, Skill India, Startup India, Smart Cities, et al. "It is all technology-based programming designed to empower ordinary Indians to reform, perform and transform," he explained.

The minister said that the government has opened 31-crore bank accounts for the poor, who previously had no access to banking, "through linking of Aadhaar with mobile" and the mechanism of Direct Benefits Transfer has "saved Rs 90,000 crore, which used to be pocketed by middlemen and fictitious claimants".

The minister further stated that "We missed the industrial revolution; we missed the entrepreneurial revolution, which happened in the world in the 60s, 70s, and 80s because of licence-quota raj. We do not want to miss the digital revolution. We want to become leaders. That is the philosophy of Digital India."

(With agency inputs)