The alleged data theft case by IT Grids India Pvt Ltd, the software company which created the Seva Mitra app for the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in AP, has got even murkier as the Telangana police now claims that the company’s data contained voter data from other states, apart from having Aadhar details of 7.8 crore citizens from AP and Telangana.
Officials from the special investigation team (SIT) from Telangana, who are currently investigating into the issue, said that they have managed to also retrieve data from Amazon Web Services, a cloud service onto which IT Grids had stored its data. Earlier, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) also filed a complaint with the Cyberabad police (under which Hyderabad’s IT corridor falls) against the software company, accusing it of stealing Aadhar details of people from AP and Telangana.
Apart from that, two cases were earlier registered with the Cyberabad and Hyderabad police against IT Grids, accusing it of data theft. The matter even became political with the TDP alleging that the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi led by chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao) and the main opposition YSR Congress Party in AP are conspiring and trying to target TDP supremo and AP chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
“We have found voter data from Punjab and even New Delhi, which are available on the internet easily. But we don’t know why that information is with IT Grids. We have obtained a lot of data from storage devices with the company, which is being sent for forensic examination (to the TS Forensic Science Laboratories)," said a senior police official, who did not want to be quoted. He added that the data obtained from Amazon Web Services is also being examined, to check the alleged misuse by the software company.
The police official also informed that a money trail of some financial transactions between the TDP and IT Grids has also been found as part of the investigation. However, the software company’s chief executive officer (CEO), D Ashok, has been absconding since day one after the first case was registered against his company.
“Once we get credible information, we will get him. And those who are found sheltering him will also have to face consequences," he added. While it was initiall believed that the data in question pertained only to AP citizens, the SIT subsequently said that it had also found data of citizens from Telangana.
At the heart of this entire issue is the question of misuse of data, and more specifically Aadhar and beneficiary data. IT Grids Pvt Ltd has been primarily booked by the police for managing to “illegally access" to personal information and “sensitive data" of citizens relating to Aadhaar, the electoral roll, government schemes, and voter’s information related to various political parties. The main point, stated the official, is how the company got the information, and what it used it for.
“This case will definitely set precedence for the future of IT security in the country," remarked the police official. TDP functionaries, who did not want to be quoted, maintained that there was no wrongdoing on part of IT Grids. In fact, AP chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, in an interview with Mint earlier this month, said the same; that the information used by IT Grids was taken from public sources.