Aadhaar data theft

Poll app steals voters’ data

In 2019, Seva Mitra app, developed by private company IT Grids after the then ruling party TDP commissioned it, was found following dangerous protocols that breached the privacy of its users. Reminiscent of the Cambridge Analytica case, sensitive data of an estimated 3.5 crore voters was said to have been collected and unsafely stored. This resulted in the investigation of abuse of Aadhaar data for building the database of the app. The case brought about a storm of political clashes among TDP, YSRC and the TRS government in Telangana.

Sudhakar’s reporting highlighted the attempt to profile voters by breaching their privacy for political gains. Sudhakar wrote on the app designed to extract as much information as possible from its users without explicit permission. The complainant in the case, a data analyst whistleblower told Sudhakar about the threats he received from the AP police for bringing the issue to light.

In an interview, former Andhra Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Gopala Krishna Dwivedi told Sudhakar that public data, especially photographs of voters, collected on the app did not come from the ECI. He also spoke to Hari Krishna Prasad Vemuru, a key advisor to TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, about his party’s involvement in the leak.

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