Aadhaar Virtual ID: Here's what ex-Finance Minister Chidambaram has to say

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2018

In the midst of the prevailing hullabaloo over the vulnerability of Aadhar - a citizen's unique identity data in India - the government has come up with an additional security feature that it claims will address the people's concerns.

Virtual Aadhaar ID: How Will It Work? Scrapping the reports, UIDAI said that "there was no breach of sensitive data such as one's biometrics". It will not be possible to find an Aadhaar number by using the Virtual ID.

The government has been very persistent in pushing Aadhaar as the primary government ID and also in assuring that the system is very safe. Instead of providing the actual ID number, citizens will be able to use a revocable Virtual ID and the agencies are required to make the necessary changes in their systems by June 1, 2018.

The Aadhaar-issuing body's CEO, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, tweeted "Virtual [ID] is one of biggest recent innovations in this field".

UIDAI will also introduce the concept of "limited KYC", which will provide need-based or limited details of a user to an authorized agency providing a particular service.

The UIDAI has also introduced Limited KYC (Know Your Customer) and UID Tokens, in an attempt to assuage privacy and security concerns about the misuse of Aadhaar numbers.

As per the circular, a virtual ID will be valid for a defined period of time and every time a new one gets generated by the user, the older one gets automatically canceled. Pandey told ET that in case service providers resort to unscrupulous means of retrieving the Aadhaar number, they will be conducting a "criminal offence" and will be punished by the law.

Under the new system, at the user-end, a person will have the choice not to share his Aadhaar number at the time of authentication.

Nilekani was reacting to The Tribune's report from January 4, which alleged that the Aadhaar details of millions of users was easily accessible. "I think everybody has to accept that Aadhaar is here to stay".

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Jan.8 said the government asked the UIDAI to request the Tribune and its journalist to assist the police in the investigation.

"What about all the databases that are already linked up with our Aadhaar number?"

The move to introduce an "untested" virtual ID to address security concerns over Aadhaar database is a step in the right direction, but may be a case of too little, too late, according to experts, as numerous 119 crore Aadhaar holders have already shared their 12-digit numbers with various entities. It later allowed Airtel to resume Aadhaar-based e-KYC verifica.

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