There's an orchestrated campaign to malign Aadhaar: Former UIDAI chairman Nilekani

Chidambaram. File

Chidambaram. File

The alleged breach of Aadhaar brought to fore in a recent newspaper report has triggered privacy and security concerns.

What is Virtual ID or VID all about?

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 huge breach of his own confidential information that had occurred when he posted the picture of his Aadhaar card, with the QR code intact.

"If someone authenticates you, they will only have the virtual number, and even if their database gets hacked, all that gets lost is the virtual ID number which doesn't put you at risk because you can always change this number", Rahul Matthan, partner at law firm Trilegal, was quoted as saying by the Mint.

The government has been very persistent in pushing Aadhaar as the primary government ID and also in assuring that the system is very safe.

The "Virtual ID" will be made compulsory for all agencies undertaking authentication from June 1, 2018.

The Aadhaar-issuing body will start accepting the "Virtual ID" from March 1, 2018. UIDAI will now issue a 16-digit Virtual ID to prevent Aadhaar number from being shared.

Moreover, this is useless in rural areas where paper-based copies of Aadhaar card are widely used, along with biometrics, to authenticate users, making the virtual ID layer of security an urban-centric stop-gap measure.

No authentication service has been provided for verifying whether the original Aadhaar user is trying to find out if their account is linked or not.

"Under compulsion, millions of persons have already shared Aadhaar number with many service providers".

Aadhaar number holder can use VID in lieu of Aadhaar number whenever authentication or KYC services are performed.Authentication may be performed using VID in a manner similar to using Aadhaar number. The number would be valid only for a limited period of time.

Update: There are some more details now, although they come courtesy the Economic Times website and are yet to be officially confirmed by UIDAI or any other government agency.

The move comes amid heightened concerns around the collection and storage of personal and demographic data of individuals after The Tribune reported it bought unrestricted access to details of over one billion Aadhaar numbers - for just Rs 500 and in 10 minutes.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Jan.8 said the government asked the UIDAI to request the Tribune and its journalist to assist the police in the investigation.

UIDAI allowing Airtel to conduct Aadhaar-based e-KYC is aimed at facilitating the linking of Aadhaar with mobile SIMs, deadline for which is also 31 March.

The UIDAI announced on Wednesday that Aadhaar card holders would now have a second layer of security - a 16-digit virtual ID (VID) which they could use to avail services instead of providing their 12-digit Aadhaar number. That remains suspended till final enquiry and audit (here and here).

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