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Amidst the raging controversy in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh over alleged pilferage of crucial government data by an app developed for the TDP by a private firm based in Hyderabad, J Satyanarayana, part-time chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), who also happens to be the IT & E-Governance Advisor to the government of Andhra Pradesh, said the Aadhaar data as a separate entity with UIDAI is safe and secure. In a wide-ranging interview to TOI, Satyanarayana said he does not deal with the day to day issues of both UDIAI or AP IT department and is involved only in policy decisions. Excerpts:

What’s your take on Cyberabad police of Telangana registering FIR against IT Grids Private Limited that developed the TDP app Sevamitra with reference to allegations of data theft and use of data from the Smart Pulsey Survey linked to the State Resident Data Hub (SRDH) having datasets of Aadhaar as base data?

Neither as UIDAI chairman or IT advisor to the AP government, I deal with day to day matters and individual cases. I have nothing to do with it. I neither get involved nor do they come to me as it is not my responsibility. These issues or cases do not come to my notice as they are handled at other levels. I am not responsible for day to day management. In UIDAI, I am chairing the board for the past two and a half years. The board deals with policy matters, acts and changes and big projects. These matters come to the board and not to me as an individual. My authority is to chair the board meeting and conduct proceedings. For instance, if some incident happens in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam, it will not come to my notice. Even if it comes to my notice, I do not have powers to deal with it. Whether it is in Assam or AP, it is the same thing.

The issue of conflict of interest of you working as UIDAI chairman and IT advisor to AP Government was raised by opposition parties following the data theft controversy? What’s your take on it?

Section 19 of The Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016 speaks about the transaction of business. I was sworn in (as UIDAI part-time chairman) on September 9, 2016, and the act came into force on September 12, 2016. Before taking up the job, I took legal advice anticipating if there is any conflict of interest. The act clearly says that if there is any conflict of interest, the concerned person board shall not participate in the board meeting and recuse himself. For me, that situation has not come yet. Like any statutory body, the provision does exist.

Did you bring to the notice of the UIDAI board regarding the ongoing data issue and allegations of conflict of interest?

I have brought to the notice of the headquarters regarding this. Whatever advice comes, I will go by it. But a clear provision exists in the act and I don’t deal with day to day affairs. It is the responsibility of the CEO of UIDAI who has got both executive and legal powers.

Is there any possibility of Real-Time Governance Society (RTGS) governed beneficiary and family demographic data linked SRDH going into the hands of private companies or political parties?

I can’t talk about these allegations. However, the concerned Principal Secretary (IT) K Vijayanand and RTGS CEO Ahmad Babu have responded to these already and emphatically gone on record saying that the data has not gone out.

Based on a Supreme Court ruling, UIDAI has asked state governments to shut down Aadhaar-enabled SRDH. However, Aadhaar-linked SRDH is still sitting in a database like Pulse Survey? How is this justified?

Yes. It is being used for various government programmes. Concerned government agencies have data pertaining to several government programmes. But the data is given in the past. UIDAI has stopped sharing for the past two years and there will be no sharing in the future as well. The data then was given as per the existing law at that time.

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Quelle/Source: The Times of India, 07.03.2019

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