Update (25th December 2020): The issue has now been resolved, and the private data of applicants is not available as easily as it was available yesterday. However, the portal is not completely safe as it uses an “HTTP” connection instead of “HTTPS.” Google Chrome issues a warning saying not to share private information via this portal.
24th December 2020: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched the National Portal for Transgender Persons in November 2020. Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot, launched this portal to enable Transgender persons to apply for a Certificate of Identity and Identity Card online.
Soon after the portal was launched, I flagged in this article that the portal is not secure, and the personal information of applicants was at risk. Today, I was able to easily access, view, and possibly edit the private information of over 280 applicants who have used this portal since its launch.
The private data includes Date of Birth, Phone Number, Address, Email, Gender assigned at Birth, Gender Identity, Photo ID, etc. Above is a screenshot with sensitive information hidden. LGBTQIA+ awareness platform, Yes, We Exit has issued a warning against using this portal till it is not relaunched with superior Data Safety features.
The alternative for Transgender persons is to apply at the District Magistrate’s office. However, the Government has not yet trained all District Magistrates about the Transgender (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020. Therefore it is likely that most District Magistrates would be unaware of the process to issue a Certificate of Identity and an Identity Card to Transgender persons.
The portal is designed and maintained by Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) Centre (Gandhinagar), an Inter-University Centre of the University Grants Commission (UGC) that primarily focuses on the modernization of Libraries. I tried reaching out to INFLIBNET by calling the number mentioned on their website. However, the “number does not exist.”
Data Safety does not seem to be a top priority of the BJP Government. Recently it was disclosed that the Personal Data of over 4400 RTI applicants was available on the website of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The Bombay High Court had ordered an inquiry into the same. Data Safety concerns were also raised by experts regarding the Aarogya Setu App.