The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has taken action against 12 websites and 12 mobile apps (from the Play Store), which provided Aadhaar related services illegally, and has had them shut down. The agency has further directed to close down 26 more websites and apps, although it did not name any of the culprits. However, we feel UIDAI should have also named and listed the culprits on a separate page, which users could share to avoid getting scammed and raise public awareness about such scams.

The UIDAI mentions that these apps and websites provided unauthorized Aadhaar related services like downloading the Aadhaar card, providing status of Aadhaar generation, PVC Aadhaar Card, etc. to users, and collected data about Aadhaar numbers and enrolment details. The agency further states that none of the owners of these apps or websites have been authorized to provide such services, or collect the data, and that their actions are illegal.

This is not the first time the UIDAI is taking action to refrain private parties from collecting Aadhaar data – in April last year, the agency asked companies like eBay, Flipkart, Amazon etc., to not allow merchants on their platforms to collect Aadhaar information from the general public for printing Aadhaar cards. It’s worth noting that users can get an online copy of their Aadhaar for free from which will be valid even if printed on a black and white form.

Securing the Aadhaar database becomes increasingly important as the government pushes for increased usage of the identification card. Last month, the government announced Aadhaar Pay, allowing anyone with a bank account linked Aadhaar number, to make and receive payments electronically. The Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app also allows users to send and receive money using their 12-digit Aadhaar number. Other than this, the TRAI had also said that the mobile subscriber base should be verified under the Aadhaar eKYC.