India's largest biometric-based identity programme - Aadhaar was at the centre of a heated debate between the former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and current Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Parliament today.
P Chidambaram led the opposition charge and asked the government how it would protect the people's private information from being hacked through Aadhaar.
"The Pentagon is being hacked - what is the guarantee you can prevent the hacking of bank accounts, Income Tax details through Aadhaar number?" P Chidambaram asked. He also said: "MS Dhoni's wife has complained his Aadhaar number is being made public."
To which Arun Jaitley responded by saying, "If firewalls are broken, hacking can take place anywhere. That is not a ground to say that hacking takes place only because Aadhaar is there."
"The Pentagon got hacked even without the Aadhaar being there. So the hacking doesn't happen because of Aadhaar," he further said.
The government had recently made Aadhar a mandatory for filing Income Tax returns and for PAN card application.
Defending the move, Arun Jaitley had said that the linking of PAN card to Aadhaar would minimise the fraudulent activities. However, the government's move created a massive debate over the misuse of data by the state.
Chidambaram seems to have raised the similar concern when he said, "Aadhaar was an instrument to avail service and subsidies. It was never intended to be attached to the IT accounts and bank accounts. I can accept that for now. How will you protect the privacy of the IT returns?"
After P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal was the second Congress leader who expressed his displeasure over making Aadhaar mandatory for filing tax returns and linking it to the PAN card.
He also raised the same hacking concern and said: "Banking transactions can be hacked, can track people using travel records, when the Pentagon can be hacked why can't this be?"
"Aadhaar was only meant for PDS, targeted subsidies should reach the people. That is purpose of Aadhaar, not for you to pry into the activities of others," he said. Sibal claimed that "we are living in a police state," Sibal further said.
Earlier, the Supreme Court reiterated that the government cannot make Aadhaar mandatory for availing government welfare schemes.
The apex court, however, maintained that it cannot stop the government from using the UID for other activities such as filing tax returns and purchasing a sim card.