The issue of privacy and data security of Aadhaar holders has been a long debated topic. Now to resolve the problem once and for all, the Unique Identifications Authority of India (UIDAI) has announced that the Virtual Identity (VID) has been made operational via its authentication agencies. It is notable that a few months ago, the issue of Aadhaar data security was brought to light, after which the authority decided that instead of Aadhaar number, another token or ID number would be used to avail information to authenticators. The VID is a similar concept established to address the problem. It is a random 16-digit number linked to the user’s Aadhaar.
To ensure authentication facility, the UIDAI has set up ‘local’ or ‘global’ agencies to provide VID to the holders through the UID token and limited KYC process. To hasten the adoption of this new method for authentication the authority has launched the API 2.5 which will now be used by the agencies to carry out authentication. UIDAI has also declared that telcos and e-sign provider user agencies who do not adopt API version 2.5 and e-KYC API 2.5 starting July 1 will have to pay a charge of 20 paise for every transaction.
This move will be done to push the telecom companies towards the faster adoption of API 2.5 and therefore towards widespread use of VID, replacing the previous Aadhaar number based verification. UIDAI is also giving out an incentive to user agencies which fasten the adoption of the new authentication process by migrating entirely to API 2.5 by July 31. Such user agencies will be exempted from paying all authentication transaction charges imposed for the period July 1 to July 31.
Apart from telcos and other companies, the banks will also be required to step up their authentication by migrating to API 2.5 and e-KYC API 2.5. For these entities, the deadline has been set to be August 31. If the companies and Authentication User Agencies fail to adopt the new methods, the UIDAI will be free to exercise its power over the AUAs as per the Aadhaar act. The delay in migrating to this new method might result in UIDAI’s action and scraping of licenses along with hefty fines for the agencies.
Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI said "It has been observed that a number of AUAs have already migrated to the production environment using APIs 2.5 for VID implementation and most of the remaining AUAs have tested VID and UID Token in pre-production environment APIs 2.5. We are requesting with these agencies to fully migrate to production environment by the stipulated date” reports ANI.
The CEO of UIDAI has previously spoken about the importance of protection of Aadhaar information and Aadhaar number. As such this new authentication method of VID will provide a secure way for the users to give the required information. After this introduction, the holders will not have to quote their Aadhaar number wherever verification is required. They will be able to carry out the process by merely providing their VID number.