Virtual Aadhaar ID: too little, too late?

You don't need to share your Aadhaar number with anyone: Official

As per a UIDAI official, it will take only 10 seconds to generate a new Virtual ID, and has described it as one of the strongest security mechanism ever introduced for Aadhaar.

What is Virtual ID or VID all about?

This Virtual Id would be 16 digits long and will have a shelf life so that it can not be misused. However, the new system of KYC does not require the Aadhaar Number.

Virtual IDs (VID) is a 16-digit code that can mask one's Aadhaar number for a temporary period was introduced.

The "Virtual ID" will be made compulsory for all agencies undertaking authentication from June 1, 2018.

"We can confirm that the UIDAI had permitted Bharti Airtel to continue Aadhaar based e-KYC till March 31, 2018, subject to compliance to guidelines laid down by the authority", a Bharti Airtel spokesman said in a written response to ET's queries Thursday.

The VID will be 16-digit random number mapped with your Aadhaar number.

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Moreover, this is useless in rural areas where paper-based copies of Aadhaar card are widely used, along with biometrics, to authenticate users, making the virtual ID layer of security an urban-centric stop-gap measure. Residents are now required to share Aadhaar number to authenticate their identity to avail various services and the number is stored in the databases of banks, telcos and other private sector organisations.

Under the new system, at the user-end, a person will have the choice not to share his Aadhaar number at the time of authentication. Also, as per UIDAI, service providers that undertake authentication will not be allowed to generate any Virtual ID on behalf of Aadhaar holders.

Simultaneously, it has further regulated the storage of the Aadhaar number within various databases, he added.

UIDAI has said to have introduced virtual identification for the ID holders so that the actual Aadhaar number need not be shared to authenticate identity.

"I think this is a very significant announcement by UIDAI and in some sense it really makes the case against it go away", he said.

The UIDAI's and the government's cavalier attitude towards security in Aadhaar has been exposed many times over.

The criticism and anger increased after The Tribune published a stunning report wherein they were able to 'purchase' sensitive Aadhaar details of crores of citizens, for just Rs 500. "We also appreciate if Tribune and its journalist have any constructive suggestion to offer", the UIDAI said in a tweet. Hence the deadline for linking Aadhaar with essential facilities has been repeatedly getting postponed.

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