UIDAI introduces virtual ID, limited KYC for Aadhaar card holders

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The VID will be a temporary, revocable 16-digit random number mapped with the Aadhaar number.

The announcement of the virtual Aadhaar ID comes days after newspaper Tribune exposed how insecure was the Aadhaar authentication system and how it was leaking information of over a billion Aadhaar holders, including their Aadhaar number and demographic details. Virtual IDs will be issued from March 1, 2018, and service providers will start accepting it from June 1, 2018. The 72 character alphanumeric "UID Token" for your Aadhaar number will reportedly be different for every authentication body you approach.

At press time, a certified copy of the UIDAI order was not available with ET.

"(But) we have ensured that even service providers who are not supposed to store Aadhaar will be able to authenticate using it but their networks will not be able to save the information in any form".

In the new system, UIDAI will evaluate Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) and split them into two categories: Global AUAs and Local AUAs.

The virtual identification can be generated, retrieved, revoked or replaced through UIDAI's portal, mobile app, enrollment centers, etc. It had last month allowed Airtel to use Aadhaar for re-verification of its mobile customers till January 10 with stiff riders, after the company returned ₹138 crore of LPG subsidy which had flowed into unsolicited Airtel Payments Bank accounts.

What is Virtual ID (VID)?

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On Wednesday, in a circular issued, the agency introduced another layer of protection in a bid to ensure citizens that their data will be secure. "But services of 'global AUAs" will not be accessible through VID - for instance, you will have to provide your Aadhaar ID for a passport.

However, more than that, Aadhaar critics, particularly the tech website Medianama, have challenged the assertion that the introduction of VID and limited KYC would plug the gaping hole in Aadhaar's problematic security system.

While granting the temporary reprieve to Airtel in December, UIDAI had instructed the firm to use the e-KYC and authentication service only for the objective of re-verification and issuance of SIM cards and not for obtaining consent of the Aadhaar holder for opening bank accounts, wallets, DTH or any other goods or services. This will, in turn, reduce the collection of Aadhaar numbers by various agencies.

Read also: Should We Link Aadhaar or Not?

"Aadhaar is here to stay!"

The important software is all set to come out by the UIDAI by this March on the first week.

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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