Be it phone numbers, bank accounts, mutual funds and government schemes, the Aadhaar number has been made mandatory to be linked to all accounts across different industry service providers. But the issue has now become murkier with the recent expose by a newspaper that the Aadhaar details of a billion Indians could be accessed for a mere Rs 500. Surely, this has disturbed us all. The UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), the body which administers Aadhaar, has now come up with a few proposals to protect the privacy of people on the database.
1) Virtual ID
Aadhaar holders can generate a random 16 digit number linked to their Aadhaar number. They can provide this Virtual ID to the agency that needs Aadhaar for authentication. They can use the same number repeatedly or generate a fresh VID for each authentication. This facility is scheduled for launch in March 2018. Agencies performing Aadhaar checks are required to upgrade their systems to incorporate VID by June 2018.
2) Limited KYC
Under the current system, five details including name, address, date of birth, photo and mobile number are provided to agencies performing authentication. As per the proposed changes, only the details needed for the authentication will be shared eg: Only name, photo and address to the mobile phone company.
3) Global versus Local Authentication
Only Global Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) will be able to store the Aadhaar number of users. Local AUAs will only be able to store relevant details and not the Aadhaar number.
However, the petitioner opposing Aadhaar in the Supreme Court has not expressed confidence in the new proposals saying they are untested and inadequate. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case challenging the legality of the mandatory Aadhaar linkages introduced by the government.
What should you do
The UIDAI proposals may not be enough but they are a step in the right direction. The deadline for mandatory Aadhaar linking has been postponed until March 31 after an interim order of the Supreme Court. However, if you can hold out, wait and watch what happens. The Supreme Court decision – a five-member bench of which is hearing the case on January 17 – is likely to have a major impact on your investments and privacy.