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UIDAI books 8 websites for illegally collecting Aadhaar data: report

The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues the Aadhaar card, has filed  FIRs against 8 illegal websites masquerading as legitimate portals, reports PTI. These websites were illegally collecting Aadhaar numbers and other personal information from users, the report added.

The websites were booked under Section 38 of Aadhaar Act 2016, which deals with punishment for “unauthorized access to the Central Identities Data Repository”. The penalties include imprisonment of up to 3 years and fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.  The sites were also charged under IPC Section 409 (Criminal breach of trust) and Section 420 (cheating).

This isn’t the first time that UIDAI has shut down several online services for illegally collecting Aadhaar details. In February, it shut down  12 websites and 12 mobile apps (from Play Store), which provided Aadhaar related services illegally. The UIDAI also issued directions to close down 26 more websites and apps, although it did not name them. In April last year, the agency asked companies like eBay, Flipkart, Amazon to not allow merchants on their platforms to collect Aadhaar information from the general public.

List of Sites:

– aadhaarupdate.com (not blocked)
– aadhaarindia.com (blocked)
– pvcaadhaar.in (blocked)
– aadhaarprinters.com (blocked)
– geteaadhaar.com (blocked)
– downloadaadhaarcard.in (blocked)
– aadharcopy.in (not blocked)
– duplicateaadharcard.com (blocked)

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Note that two websites out of the eight sites booked by the UIDAI were still accessible. “aadhaarupdate.com, a well-designed site, claims to provide Aadhaar updating services by collecting a user’s Aadhaar info and other personal info including email, phone no, etc. The site also claims to sell Biometric scanners and redirects users to this discontinued Shopclues fingerprint scanner device.  “aadharcopy.in” also claims to allow existing Aadhaar users to update their account, and even runs Google ads on its page.

Fake websites are running fake Aadhaar ads on Google

However, a quick Google search reveals there are several others websites that haven’t come under the UIDAI’s scanner. Filtering search results for the past month for the keyword “aadhaar copy” reveals that certain websites like this, displays Google ads on it claiming to provide Aadhaar relates services. Clicking on one redirects the user to a fake page claiming to provide free Aadhaar copy downloads.

Although UIDAI has taken actions against several sites, several fake web pages pop up regularly on Google search results trying to masquerade as genuine ones. Search results for the word “Aadhaar” show that some sites are even monetizing using SEO techniques and running Google ads for the keyword “Aadhaar”. Most of these websites running ads are fake, and UIDAI should be negotiating with Google to block such unsolicited ads.

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