Telecom Watchdog Whose Aadhaar Dare Went Viral Gets Extension

RS Sharma, who was appointed as telecom watchdog TRAI chief in 2015 on a three-year term, has been given an extension till September 2020.

Telecom Watchdog Whose Aadhaar Dare Went Viral Gets Extension

TRAI Chairman RS Sharma had put out his Aadhaar number and challenged people to do him harm

New Delhi:

Ram Sewak Sharma, the telecom regulator who recently revealed his Aadhaar number and challenged critics of the identification programme to do him "any harm", has been given two more years as head of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or TRAI.

Mr Sharma's term was to end this week.

A government order said Mr Sharma will continue as the telecom regulator till September 2020 when he turns 65. The NDA government first appointed him as a telecom regulator in 2015 well before he was to retire.

A former IAS officer had recently made headlines when he disclosed his Aadhaar number on the microblogging site and challenged everyone to show how mere knowledge of the unique number could be used to harm him.

The challenge and its fallout caused a flutter on social media and in parliament, where opposition parties have repeatedly raised questions about the security of citizen's data. Congress lawmaker Pratap Singh Bajwa sought his apology for making people insecure about their Aadhaar data. Left leader D Raja demanded an investigation.

The outspoken bureaucrat, who had once led UIDAI that runs the Aadhaar identification programme, intended to demonstrate that mere knowledge of the unique number could be used to harm him. Mr Sharma insists that no harm had come to him. He insists that no harm had come to him.

The UIDAI had initially backed him but later, reportedly on the government's nudge, put out a statement that appeared to frown at his challenge. UIDAI, or the Unique Identification Authority of India, also asked other people not to emulate him.

Aadhaar was launched by the previous UPA in 2009-10 to reduce the government's subsidy bill and improve the delivery of services.

Campaigners and experts have raised concerns about privacy and the safety of the data, the susceptibility of biometrics to failure, and the misuse of data for profiling or increased surveillance.

Mr Sharma was also associated with the drafting of the data protection framework and a draft legislation.

 

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