As the notice began to create chatter on social media, the Ministry of IT – the nodal ministry of UIDAI – had to beat a hasty retreat, reassuring that there were enough safeguards and protections in the Aadhaar system, and asking people to continue to share the unique identification number. , but after exercising “normal caution”.
“Given the possibility of misinterpretation of the press release, the same positions are withdrawn with immediate effect,” the IT Department said, uncharacteristically issuing the clarification on Sunday.
In recent years, Aadhaar has become the most trusted proof of identity, with hospitals, hotels and employers insisting on Aadhaar photocopies, although it is “voluntary”. Most people shared the photocopies, with some noticing they had been misused in their loan and other documents. In the case of several agencies, biometric authentication devices have never been deployed with UIDAI pushing the use of QR codes embedded in Aadhaar cards.
Two days ago, the Bangalore regional office of UIDAI issued a press release under the title “Attention”, asking people to be careful when giving Aadhaar for certain verification processes.
“Do not share (a) photocopy of your Aadhaar with any organization as it can be misused. Otherwise, please use a masked Aadhaar which only displays the last 4 digits of your Aadhaar number. It can be downloaded from the official website of UIDAI,” he said, further adding, “Only organizations that have obtained a license to use UIDAI can use Aadhaar to establish a person’s identity. Unlicensed private entities like hotels or movie theaters are not permitted to collect or keep copies of the Aadhaar card.It is an offense under the Aadhaar Act 2016. If a private entity asks to see your Aadhaar card or asks for a photocopy of your Aadhaar card, please check that it has (a) a valid user license from UIDAI.
The latest episode comes a few years after former IT secretary and one of Aadhaar’s main architects, RS Sharma, was caught up in a privacy debate when questions were raised about the security of the single number.
While Aadhaar has been shown to be safe, the use of photocopies has created security fears.