Telecom operators have sought more time from the government for implementation of Aadhaar OTP (one-time password)-based authentication process for reverification of mobile numbers, claiming that there is confusion over the use of the SMS-based method. The government has mandated to begin mobile number reverification by December 1 to comply with the Supreme Court directions, of February 6, for putting in place within a year an effective mechanism to scrutinise identity of over a billion existing as well as future mobile subscribers. In separate letters to telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan and Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey, telecom operators’ body COAI claimed that there is “ambiguity” over the implementation process — it was earlier decided that for reverification operators will use SMS, mobile app, IVRS and web-based methods, but UIDAI, in its recent circular, excluded the SMS-based method.
In a circular issued on November 15 on the process of OTP-based Aadhaar e-KYC for reverification of subscribers, UIDAI issued instructions for only IVRS and app-based processes, said COAI director general Rajan S Mathews in the letters seen by FE.“It is pertinent to note that DoT instructions of October 23 clearly state that SMS-based and or IVRS-based and app-based processes need to be implemented. It is submitted that the process with only IVRS and web will not address requirements of the Department of Telecom (DoT) directions or objective, nor will it achieve the requisite scale of e-KYC with Aadhaar linking for such a large number of telecom subscribers,” he added.
Mathews said both DoT and UIDAI had earlier publicised that reverification would be done through SMS, app and IVRS processes, and subscribers are now aware of the same and hence are not visiting operator-run stores for verification. “This sudden change in approach has not and will not be taken well by subscribers and will delay the entire reverification timelines as stipulated by the Supreme Court. Besides, it will not be easy for operators to explain to subscribers that UIDAI/government has not approved the SMS-based method,” he complained. On implementation date of November 30, 2017, for the reverification process, COAI said as informed to UIDAI earlier, in order to implement the whole process there is a need to modify the customer acquisition form (CAF). This modified form will have to be issued by the DoT and would then have to be developed by the operators and incorporated in their apps nationwide. To change the system and implement the process, operators would require at least 4-6 weeks. “However, the same has not been considered by UIDAI, while stipulating timelines for implementation in a unilateral manner,” Mathews said.