India brings Virtual ID to users to avoid security issues with Aadhaar

Aadhaar cardUIDAI said the new concept of Virtual ID which Aadhaar-card holder can generate from its website and give for various purposes, including SIM verification, instead of sharing the actual 12-digit biometric ID, will reduce security issues.

UIDAI said this will give the users the option of not sharing their Aadhaar number at the time of authentication.

The government agency said Virtual ID would be a random 16-digit number. The Virtual ID together with biometrics of the user would give any authorised agency like a mobile company, limited details like name, address and photograph for verification purpose.

Aadhaar users can generate as many Virtual IDs as he or she wants. The older ID gets automatically cancelled once a fresh one is generated.

UIDAI has also launched limited KYC — providing need-based or limited details of a user to an authorised agency.

The Virtual ID will be a temporary and revocable 16 digit random number mapped to a person’s Aadhaar number and the Aadhaar-issuing body will start accepting it from March 1, 2018. From June 1, 2018 it will be compulsory for all agencies that undertake authentication to accept the Virtual ID from their users.

Agencies that do not migrate to the new system to offer this additional option to their users by the stipulated deadline will face financial disincentives.

“Aadhaar number holder can use Virtual ID in lieu of Aadhaar number whenever authentication or KYC services are performed. Authentication may be performed using the Virtual ID in a manner similar to using Aadhaar number,” a UIDAI circular said.

Users can go to the UIDAI website to generate their virtual ID which will be valid for a defined period of time, or till the user decides to change it.

They can give Virtual ID to service agencies along with the fingerprint at the time of authentication. Since the system generated Virtual ID will be mapped to an individual’s Aadhaar number itself at the back end, it will do away with the need for the user to share Aadhaar number for authentication. It will reduce the collection of Aadhaar numbers by various agencies.

Agencies that undertake authentication would not be allowed to generate the Virtual ID on behalf of Aadhaar holder. UIDAI is instructing all agencies using its authentication and eKYC services to ensure Aadhaar holders can provide the 16-digit Virtual ID instead of Aadhaar number within their application.

119 crore biometric identifiers have been issued and Aadhaar is required as an identity proof of residents by various government and non-government entities.

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