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Viral Video Showing Mishandling of Govt Scheme Application Forms in Telangana Sparks Data Security Concerns

Videos of a reportedly non-govt person mishandling Telangana’s Praja Palana scheme application forms containing details like Aadhaar data of the applicants have surfaced, raising concerns around govt’s attitude towards handling of citizens’ personal data.

Multiple videos showing Praja Palana government scheme application forms scattered on Hyderabad’s Balanagar flyover have sparked concerns regarding the data security of over 1.25 Crore applicants, according to several reports. The Praja Palana programme is a Telangana government initiative for facilitating key welfare services based on grievances reported by people through a single form. According to the News Minute, the State government had initiated the process to upload the applications online after the programme concluded on January 6. Among other information, these forms include people’s address, mobile number, Aadhaar card and ration card details.

Why does it matter:

The incident reveals the callous attitude of government officials towards people’s sensitive, personally identifying data, and largely towards systems and programmes meant for facilitating welfare services and other rightful benefits citizens are entitled to. Such instances of data leaks can then be misused by non-authorised agencies for perpetrating cyberfraud and other financial crimes. One such fraud that has been on the rise is the Aadhar-enabled Payment System scam, which is carried out using cloned biometric fingerprints from leaked Aadhaar data.

What really happened in Telangana?

On January 9, in a widely shared video, a non-government person was seen mishandling a carton full of these filled forms, which contained sensitive data of applicants. On inquiry by a passerby, it was revealed that the man worked for an agency and was given the data-entry job, Deccan Chronicle reported.

The State opposition members took to X to caution citizens about cybercrimes which may occur as a result of the misuse of data from the applications by miscreants. According to the News Minute, K Shilpa Valli, Cyberabad Cyber Crime DCP, has also urged residents not to share information or OTPs with anyone seeking information in the name of government schemes. Additionally, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Commissioner Ronald Rose has suspended M Mahender, the concerned officer from Hayathnagar, who was responsible for handling the forms and had failed to supervise secure transportation of the forms.

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Curious about the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights. For story tips, please feel free to reach out at sarasvati@medianama.com

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