New Delhi, Jan 12: At a time when the Aadhaar-issuing body, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), is facing criticism in the light of alleged data breaches, the head of the statutory authority explains why it has recently introduced the new method of identification called Virtual Identity--or VID in short.
Speaking to NDTV, UIDAI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that the Aadhaar authority's new system, which generates a virtual ID that people can give out instead of their actual Aadhaar numbers, is only an added layer of security and does not mean the existing system was vulnerable.
On Wednesday, the UIDAI also introduced what it described as a system of "Limited KYC" (Know Your Customer) to reduce the storage of Aadhaar numbers with the Authentication User Agencies (AUAs), while still letting them do paperless authentications.
Pandey said the Virtual ID that had been in the works for 18 months was introduced to block any attempt at profiling the crores of people who had enrolled for the unique identification number.
"May be at some later day, somebody may start linking Aadhaar number with various databases and then some profiling could be done and thereby privacy concerns were being raised," Pandey said in an exclusive interview to NDTV.
Explaining further about the virtual ID, Pandey said it is a pseudo Aadhaar number. "What we have done is that we have given a facility to people that you can generate a pseudo Aadhaar number. It is like a camouflaged Aadhaar number, where you go to our website, and then enter your own Aadhaar number. One OTP (One Time Password) comes to your mobile number registered in the Aadhaar database and then a 16-digit number is sent to you," he said.
"This is an extra layer of security. Because security is something where one has to be sensitive and alive to the current challenges. Let us say, about 20 years back, the people... their privacy concerns were quite different from the privacy concerns in 2018, and the privacy concerns and security concerns will be quite different five years hence. So, therefore, today we need to see what are the privacy concerns and what are the measures that we have to take," he added.
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.