1. UIDAI asks Airtel to explain payments bank accounts issue by December 4

UIDAI asks Airtel to explain payments bank accounts issue by December 4

The UIDAI has asked Airtel to explain, by December 4, why action should not be taken against it for allegedly opening payments bank accounts without "informed consent" of customers who went for Aadhaar-based mobile SIM verification.

By: | New Delhi | Published: November 30, 2017 4:42 PM
UIDAI, airtel, payments bank accounts on airtel, Airtel Payments Bank accounts, Bharti Airtel, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, DBT According to the UIDAI source, Bharti Airtel has been given time till December 4 to explain why action should not be initiated against it, including imposition of penalty on the issue. (Reuters)

The UIDAI has asked Airtel to explain, by December 4, why action should not be taken against it for allegedly opening payments bank accounts without “informed consent” of customers who went for Aadhaar-based mobile SIM verification. Airtel, on its part, has refuted the allegations, saying all “Airtel Payments Bank accounts are opened only after explicit consent from the customer”. A company official added that Airtel is preparing to submit a detailed response to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) within the stipulated deadline. The Aadhaar-issuing body, the UIDAI, had slapped notices on Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank in this regard in September. A UIDAI source said the company’s initial reply was not satisfactory necessitating the need for seeking further explanation.

According to the UIDAI source, Bharti Airtel has been given time till December 4 to explain why action should not be initiated against it, including imposition of penalty on the issue. The UIDAI official, who did not wish to be named, said that authority had found prima facie “wrongdoings” on the matter. When contacted, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said, “We have issued notice to a telecom operator and are awaiting their response. After giving full opportunity of hearing to the company concerned, we will take judicious view of the matter.” Pandey, however, did not identify the operator, saying the issue is under examination. To an e-mail query by PTI, an Airtel spokesperson said the re-verification of mobile phones and the opening of Airtel payments bank account were separate transactions and not linked.

“Airtel Payments Bank is fully compliant with all guidelines and follows a stringent customer on-boarding process,” the Airtel spokesperson said. He claimed that the consent for opening Airtel payments bank account as also Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) is taken separately from all customers. The DBT amount is automatically credited to the most recent Aadhaar-linked bank account of a customer as per the applicable norms, the spokesperson added. “If the Airtel payments bank account is the latest Aadhaar-linked account opened by a customer, the DBT automatically gets routed to it,” Airtel said, adding that such subsidy credit is also brought to the attention of the customers through a message or automated call.

It may be recalled that the UIDAI had shot off a notice to Airtel in September warning that not taking consent and informing the purpose of authentication was a violation of the Aadhaar Act and punishable with financial penalties.
In the notice served at that time, the UIDAI had said it had come to know that “Airtel retailers are allegedly opening Airtel payments bank accounts at the time of performing Aadhaar e-KYC verification without informing the purpose of e-KYC and also without taking informed consent of the customer”. It also asked both Bharti Airtel and its payments bank entity to take immediate corrective measures and report back to the authority on the same.

The move came after complaints were made to the UIDAI alleging that Airtel opened payments bank accounts without explicit consent of consumers and that the accounts were then linked for receiving LPG subsidy. Airtel Payments Bank was the first payments bank to go live in the country when it rolled out banking services from Rajasthan in November 2016. Payments banks can accept deposits and savings bank deposits from individuals and small businesses, up to a maximum of Rs 1 lakh per account.

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  1. R
    Reader
    Nov 30, 2017 at 5:24 pm
    The biometrics-based Aadhaar program is inherently flawed. Biometrics can be easily lifted by external means, there is no need to hack the system. High-resolution cameras can capture your fingerprints and iris information from a distance. Every eye hospital will have iris images of its patients. So another person can CLONE your fingerprints and iris images without your knowledge, and the same can be used for authentication. That is why advanced countries like the US, UK, etc. did not implement such a self-destructive biometrics-based system. If the biometric details of a person are COMPROMISED ONCE, then even a new Aadhaar card will not help that person. This is NOT like blocking an ATM card and taking a new one.
    Reply
    1. R
      Reader
      Nov 30, 2017 at 5:24 pm
      UK’s Biometric ID Database was dismantled. Why the United Kingdom's biometrics-linked National Identi-ty Card project to create a centralized register of sensitive information about residents similar to Aadhaar was scrapped in 2010?? The reasons were the massive threat posed to the privacy of people, the possibility of a surveillance state, the dangers of maintaining such a huge centralized repository of personal information and the purposes it could be used for, the dangers of such a centralized database being hacked, and the unreliability of such large-scale biometric verification processes. The Aadhaar program was designed in 2009 by mainly considering the 'Identi-ty Cards Act 2006' of UK, but the UK stopped that project in 2010, whereas India continued with the biometrics-based program. We must think why the United Kingdom abandoned their project and destroyed the data collected. (Google: 'Identi-ty Cards Act 2006' and 'Identi-ty Documents Act 2010' )
      Reply
      1. R
        Reader
        Nov 30, 2017 at 5:23 pm
        A centralized and inter-linked biometric database like Aadhaar will lead to profiling and self-censorship, endangering freedom. Personal data gathered under the Aadhaar program is prone to misuse and surveillance. Aadhaar project has created a vulnerability to identi-ty fraud, even identi-ty theft. Easy harvesting of biometrics traits and publicly-available Aadhaar numbers increase the risk of impersonation, especially online and banking fraud. Centralized databases can be hacked. Biometrics can be cloned, copied and reused. Thus, BIOMETRICS CAN BE FAKED. High-resolution cameras can capture your fingerprints and iris information from a distance. Every eye hospital will have iris images of its patients. So another person can clone your fingerprints and iris images without your knowledge, and the same can be used for authentication. If the Aadhaar scheme is NOT STOPPED by the Supreme Court, the biometric features of Indians will soon be cloned, misused, and even traded.
        Reply
        1. R
          Reader
          Nov 30, 2017 at 5:23 pm
          The US Social Security Number (SSN) card has NO BIOMETRIC DETAILS, no photograph, no physical description and no birth date. All it does is confirm that a particular number has been issued to a particular name. Instead, a driving license or state ID card is used as an identification for adults. The US government DOES NOT collect the biometric details of its own citizens for the purpose of issuing Social Security Number. The US collects the fingerprints of only those citizens who are involved in any criminal activity (it has nothing to do with SSN), and the citizens of other countries who come to the US.
          Reply

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