Three years after Nandan Nilekani, the high-profile tech entrepreneur who helped create India’s controversial biometric identity program Aadhaar, publicly tweeted his own confidential Aadhaar ID, his personal information is still readily available online, BuzzFeed News has learned.
An Aadhaar ID, which is associated with personal information like your address and birthdate and is linked to services such as your bank account, tax records, cell phone number, and insurance, is like an extreme form of a Social Security number in the US, and is also connected to your biometric data.
From 2009 to 2014, Nilekani served as the head of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government agency responsible for administering Aadhaar. The program aims to create a digital national identity system by collecting the personal details and biometrics — all 10 fingerprints and iris scans — of 1.3 billion Indian residents into a government-owned database. Critics have slammed Aadhaar, saying it violates privacy, enables state surveillance, and exposes citizens to identity theft.
Nilekani exposed himself to identity theft by tweeting a picture of his own Aadhaar card on April 12, 2014. He blacked out the first eight digits of his 12-digit Aadhaar number, but did not obscure the QR code containing his personal demographic details that could be read by any freely available iOS or Android app…