In existence for over a decade, Aadhaar has emerged as the national identity and a treated as a preferred/ mandatory identity proof for avail services such as obtaining a SIM card, hospitalisation, opening a bank account or availing government subsidies and benefits of various government-run welfare schemes, even for the COVID-19 vaccination. And it is now that the government’s Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has warned the citizens not to share photocopies of their Aadhaar cards with any organisation citing chances of misuse.
“Aadhaar has come out with the concept of virtual Aadhaar and Masked Aadhaar in which Aadhaar numbers need not be given. There have been some reports in which some Aadhaar numbers have been shown, published and all. So while that also needs to be avoided that needs to be ensured that anyone who is not authorised to store, doesn’t do that,” Abhishek Singh, CEO of Digital India, and CEO of the National e-Governance Division (NeGD) under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) had told Business Today in earlier this month.
For security purposes, masked Aadhaar displays only the last 4 digits of the Aadhaar number. It can be downloaded from UIDAI’s official website https://myaadhaar.uidai.gov.in. UDAI suggested selecting the option “Do you want a masked Aadhaar” before proceeding to download. When downloading a ‘masked Aadhar’, the first eight digits of the Aadhaar number are substituted with “XXXX-XXXX,” with only the last four digits visible, protecting the citizen’s identity. And with this, the card cannot be misused even if it is lost or misplaced.
While Aadhaar is a preferred KYC document for opening bank accounts, the majority of bank executive calls it a mandatory document and ask for a photocopy of the same. The same goes for obtaining a mobile SIM. According to the Aadhaar Myth Busters page on the UIDAI website, Aadhaar is not mandatory. As per the amendments of the Telegraph Act, 1885, telecom users can use an Aadhaar number as a KYC document along with authentication voluntarily to obtain a new mobile connection. And they are not allowed to store or use your biometrics taken at the time of Aadhaar verification. Even for school admissions or for the examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for medical entrance or the University Grants Commission, Aadhar is not mandatory. UIDAI website also says that if any educational institution/ board insists on only Aadhaar as an identity document, you can show UIDAI’s press release - https://uidai.gov.in/images/news/press-release-06092018.pdf in the regard or complaint to the concerned authorities of the institution/ board.
Even if going forward, enterprises and organisations adhere to the government’s press release suggesting citizens share a masked copy of the Aadhaar, the lack of awareness among the executives at these organisations can pose a hindrance for the consumers. Also, the government should take steps against organisations asking for Aadhaar as a mandatory document when it is not.
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