Poor more prone to Aadhaar frauds

Srinivas Kodali, an independent researcher and technology activist, believes that the guidelines recommended by the Supreme Court have been largely ignored because of the Government’s insatiable need for surveillance on citizens, wanting to know everything from their telecom details to hotel stays.

Kodali also explains that this applies to the private sector as well, where surveillance capitalism is the new buzzword and first-party data is being captured. Questions to be asked, Kodali says, are where is the money going, who is behind it, and who is vulnerable?

A close look at the frauds by technology activists and researchers reveals that monetary frauds are being carried out at various levels and are prevalent across the country with mostly the poor and the uneducated being the victims.

Cyber security expert Ritesh Bhatia says that fraudsters come in all shapes and sizes. Various media reports show that Business Correspondents, Common Service Centre agents, government staff and gangs running an organised crime syndicate are believed to be part of the racket. Business Correspondents are appointed by banks for providing banking and financial services. On the other hand, the Common Services Centre (CSC) programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), Government of India, and serves as an access point for the delivery of various electronic services to villages in India. The CSCs have been set up by the Ministry of Electronics & IT under the Companies Act, 1956 to oversee the implementation of the CSC scheme. But unfortunately, many of these staff have been found to be a part of the Aadhaar-enabled payment system or AePS-related frauds.

Kodali mentions that problems begin with the way Aadhaar has been designed. “I don’t know where and how I am using it. And this is a problem,” he says, pointing to news reports from Haryana where some fraudsters are believed to have stolen many if not all of the Haryana land registry fingerprints database. It is not just Haryana. Cases of AePS fraud are emanating from all over. Police in Mumbai, Jharkhand and Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Telangana have cases under investigation.

“The fingerprints are not just in the UIDAI…