New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his predecessor, P Chidambaram of the Congress, sparred in parliament today over Aadhaar, the biometric identification system that the opposition alleges is not fool-proof in protection of data privacy. Mr Chidambaram held up the example of cricket icon MS Dhoni's wife Sakshi alleging a leak of his Aadhaar details as he asked Mr Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha how the government planned to protect the privacy of transactions, facts and materials.
"The Pentagon is being hacked - what is the guarantee you can prevent the hacking of bank accounts, Income Tax details through Aadhaar number?" the former Finance Minister asked. He added, "MS Dhoni's wife has complained his Aadhaar number is being made public."
Mr Jaitley quipped, "The Pentagon got hacked even without the Aadhaar being there. So the hacking doesn't happen because of Aadhaar."
Don't caricature the question, shot back Mr Chidambaram as laughter was heard from the ruling party benches. "If you don't want to answer, say I don't want to answer," he said.
Mr Jaitley replied that he did have a point to make. "If firewalls are to be breached, they can happen anywhere. That is not a ground that hacking takes place only because Aadhaar is there."
Speaking on Sakshi Dhoni's complaint, the Finance Minister said "It was immature behaviour on behalf of the person who went there."
An agency that helps the government with Aadhaar implementation has been blacklisted after it tweeted a photo of its volunteer with MS Dhoni and also posted a screenshot of his Aadhaar page, making his details public.
Sakshi Dhoni pointed it out to Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in tweets, after which the company was blacklisted for 10 years.
Over the last few weeks, the Aadhaar card has been at the centre of a debate in the country.
Many were concerned after the government announced that the 12-digit number would soon be compulsory for a bank account, filing tax returns, applying for a new phone number and even for welfare schemes including mid-day meals. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court said Aadhaar cannot be mandatory for people to draw benefits on government welfare schemes.