Days after a newspaper report said that data relating to Aadhaar were put on sale for just Rs 500, the UIDAI introduced a new concept of Virtual ID as an additional layer of security, which its CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey has said is not compulsory. In an interview with ET Now, the Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that the Aadhaar team had been working on the virtual ID system for the last few years and it takes care of all privacy and security concerns.
On Wednesday, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) introduced a new concept of Virtual ID which Aadhaar-card holder can generate from its website and give for various purposes, including SIM verification, instead of sharing the actual 12-digit biometric ID in a bid to address privacy concerns.
The Virtual ID, which would be a random 16-digit number, together with biometrics of the user would give any authorised agency like a mobile company, limited details like name, address and photograph, which are enough for any verification.
Calling the Virtual ID system the biggest innovation since the launch of Aadhaar, the UIDAI CEO said, “Using virtual ID is an option and not compulsory for Aadhaar holders… those in villages may choose to not use virtual ID. Agencies will have to provide the option for Virtual ID from June 1.”
“Photocopy of Aadhaar cards is not needed by agencies & should not be asking for it,” He told ET Now, adding that strengthening of Aadhaar information will always be an ongoing process. He further said that even though the Aadhaar number is not a secret information, creating a database with that information is illegal.
The move aims to strengthen the privacy and security of Aadhaar data and comes amid heightened concerns around the collection and storage of personal and demographic data of individuals. As many as 119 crore biometric identifiers have been issued so far and Aadhaar is required as an identity proof of residents by various government and non-government entities.
For instance, the government has made it mandatory for verifying bank account and PAN to weed out black money and bring unaccounted wealth to book. The same for SIM has been mandated to establish the identity of mobile phone users.