Engineer arrested after stealing data from controversial Indian identity program.
Engineer arrested after stealing data from controversial Indian identity program.

Bangalore police arrested a software engineer for stealing sensitive information on more than 50,000 people from India's controversial Aadhaar biometric identity program.

The program is a government initiative launched in 2009 as a way to curb the siphoning-off of welfare meant for the poor.

It was pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has since been plagued with criticism and accusations concerning inadequate security for data gathered on more than a billion Indians, as well as for potential violations of personal privacy as its uses span from buying a phone, to getting utilities connected or conducting online financial transactions.

The case marks the first prosecution for alleged Aadhaar data theft. Authorities accused the engineer of gaining information from the platform between January and July by using an app to mimic another initiative that lets Aadhaar holders set up appointments online with Delhi hospitals.

The app was then reportedly used to farm details including personal information such as names, addresses and phone numbers.

If proven guilty, the engineer could face up to three years in jail and a fine.