Manish Pandey, a 27-year-old IT executive in Gurgoan, came across an opportunity to work on a project in West Virginia. He rushed to make his passport, when he realised that his Class X certificate (an important document required as a proof for date of birth) was missing. When he contacted the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for a duplicate certificate, he was told to visit an office in Ajmer, where all data is stored, to get the certificate re-issued. It took him more than a week to travel to Ajmer and get a duplicate certificate.
This can happen to any of us. There are several documents that need to be kept carefully, and presented from time to time. The list is long—education certificates, passport, PAN card, Aadhaar card, birth certificate, marriage certificate, driving licence, papers for cooking gas connection, among others. Not having any of these documents could land anyone in trouble because the process to get a duplicate one is tedious.
The government has come out with a solution to solve the problem of keeping these documents in safe custody. DigiLocker—a key initiative under the Digital India campaign—has been designed to address the issue. Targeted at the idea of paperless governance, DigiLocker is a platform for issuance and verification of documents and certificates in a digital way, thus eliminating the use of physical documents. Indian citizens who sign up for DigiLocker account get dedicated cloud storage facilities.
Globally, digital locker as a concept is not new. It has been in operation for more than 10 years. Microsoft in 2004 used this idea as a means for storing a copy of the software purchased by the clients. Now, there are multiple providers of this service across the world in different forms—Google Drive, Dropbox are examples of this. But an offering by the government of an ecosystem, such as digital locker, with linkage to unique ID, eSign and consent architecture will be a first in the world.
Organisations that are registered with DigiLocker can push electronic copies of documents and certificates (such as driving licence, voter ID, school certificates) directly into citizens’ lockers. Citizens can also upload scanned copies of their legacy documents in their accounts. These legacy documents can be electronically signed using the eSign facility.
The DigiLocker has several benefits:
Access: Citizens can access their digital documents anytime, anywhere and share it online.
Paperless:- It reduces the administrative overheads of government departments by minimising the use of paper.
Authenticity: DigiLocker makes it easier to validate the authenticity of documents as they are issued directly by the registered issuers.
eSign: Self-uploaded documents can be digitally signed using the eSign facility, which is similar to the process of self-attestation.
“Citizens now have a safe storage space for documents that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. These can also be made available to relevant people in a secure fashion for limited purpose in a legally authenticated manner thus eliminating the fear of losing or misplacing critical documents,” said Thampy Koshy, partner (advisory services), EY India.
The DigiLocker is being promoted by the department of electronics and information technology (DeiTY) under the ministry of communication and IT. The petroleum ministry is gradually putting the documents of LPG customers into the DigiLocker and already data of about 5 crore individuals has been transferred.
There would be three key stakeholders in the DigiLocker system—issuer, requester and resident. The issuer is the entity issuing e-documents to individuals in a standard format and making them electronically available. These would include organisations such as CBSE, registrar office and income tax department, among others. The requester would be the entity requesting secure access to a particular e-document stored within a repository. This may include any university, passport office or regional transport office. And the third is the resident— an individual who uses the digital locker service based on his/her Aadhaar number.
Once the government issues an URI to the locker, any time the original document is needed by a user, including other government users, there is no need to submit a fresh application. The citizen can make this available to the user.
“Thus the government can also promise that “what we can we won’t ask for” and also deliver this promise,” said Koshy of EY India.
What is DigiLocker?
- Provides an online account with 1 GB storage space to Aadhaar holders
- Issuer departments can push e-documents into the digital locker system
- E-documents can be shared by residents with government or other organisations registered as requestors
- Residents can upload their documents and digitally sign them using eSign facility
- Eliminates usage of physical documents and enables sharing of e-documents across government agencies
- Eliminates usage of fake documents
How to sign up for DigiLocker?
- Aadhaar based method: You can voluntarily use Aadhaar (issued by UIDAI) to sign up using mobile OTP or biometric fingerprint device
- Non-Aadhaar method: You can authenticate your mobile number and then submit your proof of address and identity documents for manual verification.