UIDAI's 'Virtual ID' to guard Aadhaar cardholders' data

James Marshall
January 13, 2018

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. Aadhaar authentication is the process by which an Aadhaar holder's Aadhaar number along with the demographic information or biometric information is submitted to the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) for verification.

At press time, a certified copy of the UIDAI order was not available with ET.

In the new system, UIDAI will evaluate Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) and split them into two categories: Global AUAs and Local AUAs.

The last digit of the VID is the checksum using "Verhoeff" algorithm as in Aadhaar number. It can be generated only by the Aadhaar number-holder via the UIDAI website, Aadhaar enrolment centre, or its mobile application. This means that another 16-digit VID can be generated after a minimum validity period.

VID will be a temporary ID, which could be revoked.

The introduction of Virtual ID will reduce collection of Aadhaar numbers by various agencies. It will be revocable number mapped with your Aadhaar number. As the main privacy concern stemmed from the fact that it is mandatory for all citizens to link their Aadhar numbers to bank accounts, telephone connections, cooking gas subscriptions, vehicle registration & other day to day transactions, the government has introduced a system wherein an Aadhar holder can generate a temporary 16-digit Virtual Identification (VID) number that can be used for authentication in lieu of the actual Aadhar number. Moreover, you can use the Virtual ID as many times as you want, or keep generating a new one every time you have to share your unique ID with a service provider.

But how the classification would be done remains a grey area, and clearly there would be overlaps, breaches in these interfaces. Virtual IDs will be issued from March 1, 2018, and service providers will start accepting it from June 1, 2018.

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

This new security mechanism will kickstart from March 2018.

Consequently, Airtel Payments Bank terminated relationships with as many as 1,000 retailers for not following the due process while signing up customers, after the banking arm of Sunil Mittal-founded telecom carrier, conducted internal investigations to zero in on errors and lapses that led to its Aadhaar-based e-KYC licence getting suspended.

UIDAI will share updated API/technical documents, guidelines, and conduct workshops / training sessions for AUAs/KUAs to ensure smooth and timely implementation.

However, with even a tech-savvy public personality like Nandan Nilekani, in-charge of UIDAI from the beginning and the chief conceptual brain behind the entire Aadhaar project, making the cardinal mistake of publishing his Aadhaar details without estimating the consequences of the same, paints a sombre picture.

This Virtual ID can be generated as many times as possible.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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