The government has ordered telecom companies to stop using Aadhaar for electronic verification of existing mobile phone customers as well as for issuing new connections to comply with a recent Supreme Court order. The apex court had last month in a landmark verdict restricted the use of Aadhaar by private entities in the absence of a legal provision. To comply with the order, the Department of Telecom (DoT) Friday issued detailed instructions to telecom companies on stopping the use of Aadhaar-based electronic-know your customer (e-KYC) and report compliance by November 5.
Aadhaar e-KYC cannot be used for verifying existing customers as well as giving new SIM connections, the DoT said in a three-page circular. Also, it permitted the use of physical Aadhaar card for giving new connections, provided the customer voluntarily offers it.
“In compliance to the judgement of the Supreme Court, all licensees are to discontinue the use of Aadhaar eKYC service of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) both for verification as well as for issuing new mobile connections,” the Telecom Department said in the circular, as reported by PTI.
All telecom service providers shall ensure its implementation across the country in a time-bound manner and compliance in this regard is required to be submitted by November 5, 2018, it said. The DoT noted that the industry had suggested an alternate digital process for KYC of mobile subscribers which entails Customer Acquisition Forms to be embedded with a live photo of the subscriber and scanned images of proof of identity and proof of address, thereby digitising the end-to-end process for on-boarding of new mobile subscribers and making it paperless.
Accordingly, all telecom service providers have been asked by DoT to ensure the readiness of their systems and offer the proof of concept of the proposed digital process by November 5 for approval.
“Consequently, instructions issued including….dated 16.08.2016 and subsequent follow-up orders related to Aadhaar based eKYC process shall stand withdrawn. Meanwhile, this process can be implemented provisionally by all telecom service providers. Any modification which may be required in this process by the Government shall be carried out within a period of 30 days,” it said.
The Telecom Department said the operators could use physical Aadhaar card in offline mode for giving new connections if the customer gives it voluntarily. “The licensees may accept the copy of physical Aadhaar or eAadhaar letter having masked or unmasked Aadhaar number (As downloaded from UIDAI website) as proof of identity or proof of address document, if offered voluntarily by the subscriber, as per the procedure prescribed for issuance of new mobile connections…,” it said.
The DoT said its previous instructions on permitting the use of eAadhaar as proof of identity or address subject to online verification from UIDAI also “stands withdrawn”. In addition, the DoT said, “the licensee shall also delete the column of writing Aadhaar number (which was an optional entry) on customer acquisition forms for issuing the new mobile connections.”