Aadhaar adds new security layer with 16-digit 'Virtual ID'

Ajay Bhushan Pandey spoke to NDTV about virtual ID

This comes after news reports highlighted breaches in Aadhaar databases and that all you needed was Rs 500 and 10 minutes to get access to lakhs of Aadhaar IDs and corresponding information.

Here's a 9-point explainer on how Virtual ID is supposed to work - and if it addresses security concerns.

The report shows how Nilekani's personal information is still available online, and that the man steering the UIDAI ship was himself unaware of the enormous breach of his own confidential information that had occurred when he posted the picture of his Aadhaar card, with the QR code intact. Moreover, this is further corroborated by UIDAI's own recent tweet cautioning users to "delete" Aadhaar downloaded at public internet cafes or via non-private systems, something that came in the aftermath of The Tribune exposé.

"Even to the Income Tax department or other agencies required by law to map Aadhaar, people don't have to give their Aadhaar number and can authenticate using the Virtual ID", Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) told ET in an interview.

UIDAI from time to time will evaluate AUAs/Sub-AUAs based on the laws governing them and categorize them as "Global AUAs" only if laws require them to use Aadhaar number in their KYC, Only such agencies will have access to Full e- KYC (with Aadhaar number) and the ability to store Aadhaar number within their system. In order to tell the masses that their personal information is safe, secure and can not be breached, the UIDAI introduced Virtual IDs. They also added that a safety feature to make sure only need-based sharing of information, by way of a limited KYC, even as it mentioned that the system and data were safe.

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The UIDAI has also introduced Limited KYC (Know Your Customer) and UID Tokens, in an attempt to assuage privacy and security concerns about the misuse of Aadhaar numbers.

It will be compulsory for all agencies that undertake authentication to accept the Virtual ID from their users from 1 June 2018. For any given Aadhaar number there will only be one active VID at any given time. The idea is to minimise sharing of the actual Aadhaar number or demographic information.

UIDAI has been under the radar of various media agencies for some time now.

Further referring to FIR filed in the Tribune case, he said negative views on Aadhaar will have negative reactions and hence, it would be better for people to have a constructive view on it. The complete statement from UIDAI is available here. That remains suspended till final enquiry and audit (here and here).

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