CoWIN data leak breach Telegram Saket Gokhale
Media reports quoted government sources as saying that CoWIN does not collect personal details such as date of birth and address

Politicians’ data on Telegram: TMC’s Saket Gokhale alleges CoWIN leak

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The Opposition on Monday (June 12) slammed the Centre over alleged breach of the Covid-19 vaccination tracking portal CoWIN, claiming that details of senior political leaders were now available on social media app Telegram as a result of the breach.

However, media reports quoted unnamed government sources as saying that CoWIN does not collect personal details such as date of birth and address.

Saket Gokhale’s tweets

Trinamool Congress (TMC) national spokesperson Saket Gokhale was the one to make the allegation, when he shared some screenshots of the data of political leaders on his official Twitter account.

“There has been a MAJOR data breach of Modi Govt where personal details of ALL vaccinated Indians including their mobile nos., Aadhaar numbers, Passport numbers, Voter ID, Details of family members etc. have been leaked & are freely available,” Gokhale tweeted.

He went on to post a series of tweets asking several questions of the government.

“The personal details of LITERALLY EVERY INDIAN who got a Covid-19 vaccination are freely available on this leaked database. Question is: How did personal details incl passport no, Aadhaar no., etc. get leaked when Modi Govt claims it follows ‘strong data security’? Why is the Modi Govt incl Home Ministry NOT AWARE of this leak & why haven’t Indians been informed about a data breach? Who has the Modi Govt given access to sensitive personal data of Indians incl Aadhaar & Passport nos. which enabled this leak?” Gokhale’s tweets read.

Also read: CoWIN app success prompts Centre to use platform for Universal Immunisation Programme

“This is a matter of serious national concern. And predictably, the Minister in-charge of this is Ashwini Vaishnaw who heads the Electronics, Communications, & IT portfolios in addition to Railways. How long will incompetence of Ashwini Vaishnaw be ignored by PM Modi?” he added.

“Citizens’ privacy ignored”

According to the screenshots Gokhale shared, the leaked data includes the Aadhaar numbers, gender, date of birth, and vaccination centres of senior political leaders such as Rajya Sabha MP and TMC leader Derek O’Brien, former Union minister P Chidambaram, Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh, and KC Venugopal.

The screenshots also show “leaked data” of health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Haribansh Narayan Singh, Rajya Sabha MPs Sushmita Dev, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, and Sanjay Raut. Gokhale also shared alleged screenshots of the breached data of some senior journalists.

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, too, slammed Vaishnaw over the issue. “In its ‘Digital India’ frenzy, Government of India has woefully ignored citizen privacy. Personal data of every single Indian who got COVID-19 vaccination is publicly available. Including my own data. Who let this happen? Why is Government of India sitting on a data protection law?” he tweeted.

Hindustan Times reported that the developers of the Telegram bot that allegedly pulled the data from the leaked CoWIN database had disabled it.

Though there has been no official statement from the government yet, India Today quoted government sources as saying that CoWIN does not collect personal details like date of birth and address. They reportedly said the government is working on a detailed report on the alleged data leak.

(With agency inputs)

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