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UIDAI introduces virtual ID, limited KYC for Aadhaar card holders

12 January 2018

"I do not have an opinion on this".

Users are issued with a personal 12-digit identity number which they can then use to access welfare payments, and other government controlled services.

When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson said, "We can confirm that the UIDAI has permitted Bharti Airtel to continue Aadhaar based e-KYC till March 31, 2018, subject to compliance to guidelines laid down by the authority".

Here's a 9-point explainer on how Virtual ID is supposed to work - and if it addresses security concerns. In the current system, the five details of the Aadhaar holder is shared - name, date of birth, address, photo and mobile number - with the service provider at the time of authentication. The virtual ID will be a 16-digit random number mapped with the Aadhaar number and it can only be generated, replaced or revoked by the Aadhaar number holder from time to time. However, the new system of KYC does not require the Aadhaar Number.

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Vipin Nair, one of the advocates representing the petitioners who have challenged the Aadhaar Act in the Supreme Court said, "It is potentially a case of unmitigated chaos purely from an Information Technology perspective".

UIDAI had temporarily barred Airtel from conducting the Aadhaar-based eKYC, after the telco allegedly opened accounts of its mobile phone subscribers without seeking their "informed consent", and deposited LPG subsidy worth crores into them.

Data security concerns surrounding the government's Aadhaar project have generated a lot of heated public debate in the past few years. A wide range and number of private entities are using Aadhaar to verify identity of their customers.

The database, known officially as Aadhaar, was launched in 2009 as a voluntary program meant to help prevent benefit fraud, it has since grown, and is now home to the collected data - including fingerprints and iris scans - of more than a billion Indians, or upwards of 90% of the entire population.

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While Nilekani had shrugged off the potential harm posed by his own tweet, even though he was alerted by tech specialists a number of times, he did in fact delete it months before the Aadhaar Act was passed in September 2016, which made publishing Aadhaar information online a criminal offence. UIDAI will now issue a 16-digit Virtual ID to prevent Aadhaar number from being shared.

Experts pointed out that the virtual ID is voluntary and the Aadhaar number will still need to be used at some places. The complete statement from UIDAI is available here.

The UIDAI or Unique Identification Authority of India has introduced an optional method of Aadhaar authentication.

The decision to provide a temporary reprieve to Airtel on 21 December was taken after Rs138 crore of funds under the direct benefit transfer scheme were credited back to the original accounts of 5.6 million beneficiaries.

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UIDAI introduces virtual ID, limited KYC for Aadhaar card holders