NEW DELHI: UIDAI, the authority that runs the government’s Aadhaar programme, on Wednesday gave people an option not to share their Aadhaar to authenticate themselves every time they access a service. Instead, the body said, it was coming up with a concept of a “Virtual ID”, a 16-digit randomly-generated temporary number that people would be able to share instead of Aadhaar, from March-end.
The UIDAI, which had been working on the “Virtual ID” for months, made the announcement at a time privacy concerns around Aadhaar had peaked after a newspaper expose on unauthorised access of the UIDAI database earlier this month. The new system is aimed at minimising instances of leak and misuse of Aadhaar numbers and enhancing privacy of the 119 crore people issued the identification number.
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 such as name, address and photograph, which are enough for any verification. A user can generate as many Virtual IDs as he or she wants. The older ID gets automatically cancelled once a fresh one is generated.
UIDAI will come up with the software to introduce the Virtual ID from 1 March and requires the authentication agencies to start implementing it by end of March. It will be compulsory for all agencies that undertake authentication to accept the Virtual ID from their users from 1 June 2018.