The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), in order to address privacy concerns, introduced a new concept of Virtual ID which Aadhaar-card holder can generate from its website and give for various purposes, wherever Aadhaar number is necessary to provide.
Now, Aadhaar-card holders do not need to share the actual 12-digit biometric ID for any authentication, instead they can simply give the newly introduced Virtual ID.
The Virtual would be a random 16-digit number. It will be linked with the biometrics of the user that would give any authorised agency like a mobile company, limited access of details like name, address and photograph, which are sufficient for any verification.
User can generate as many Virtual IDs as they want. The older ID will get automatically cancelled at a time when a fresh one is generated.
The Aadhaar-issuing body will start accepting the virtual ID from March 1, 2018.
From June 1, 2018 it will be obligatory for all agencies that undertake authentication to accept the Virtual ID from their users.
Till now, a Aadhaar-card holders had to give 12-digit identity number along with other informations like demographic and/or biometrics and/or through a one-time password, during authentication or e-KYC (know your customer) for accessing various services and benefits from service providers such as banks or mobile companies.
The UIDAI has also introduced the concept of limited KYC under which it will only provide need-based or limited details of a user to an authorised agency that is providing a particular service.
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.
The move to bring virtual id aims to strengthen the security and privacy of Aadhaar data and comes amid heightened concerns around the collection and storage of personal and demographic data of individuals.
It will also reduce the collection of Aadhaar numbers by various agencies.
As per UIDAI, 119 crore biometric identifiers have been issued so far and Aadhaar is required as an identity proof of residents by various government and non-government entities.
For instance, the government has made it mandatory for verifying bank account and PAN to weed out black money and bring unaccounted wealth to book. The same for SIM has been mandated to establish the identity of mobile phone users.