Aadhaar’s new virtual ID security feature is like locking stable after horses have bolted: P Chidambaram

"Under compulsion, millions of persons have already shared Aadhaar number with many service providers. New security layer is like locking the stable after horses have bolted," Chidambaram said on Twitter

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 11, 2018 2:13:28 pm
Chidambaram on Aadhaar virtual ID Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday questioned the UIDAI’s move to secure Aadhaar data by introducing virtual IDs (Express Photo/Amit Mehra/File)

Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday questioned the UIDAI’s move to secure Aadhaar data by introducing virtual IDs saying the move was futile as many have already shared their Aadhaar numbers with government agencies, banks as well as mobile service providers.

Chidambaram, in a tweet this morning, used an analogy to drive home his point. “Under compulsion, millions of persons have already shared Aadhaar number with many service providers. New security layer is like locking the stable after horses have bolted.”

Earlier this month, a report in The Tribune alleged Aadhaar data can be accessed through WhatsApp for a fee. Following the report, the UIDAI said there was no breach of sensitive data such as one’s biometrics, but it went ahead and filed a case against the news organisation as well as the agency that provided the information to the journalist for a fee.

On Wednesday, in a circular issued, the agency introduced another layer of protection in a bid to ensure citizens that their data will be secure.

Virtual IDs (VID) is a 16-digit code that can mask one’s Aadhaar number for a temporary period was introduced. The new virtual ID can be used in place of Aadhaar numbers to validate one’s identity. This, UIDAI hopes, will ensure that no one, except the holder, can access the person’s Aadhaar number. For any given Aadhaar number there will only be one active VID at any given time. Further, it can be revoked or a new one can be generated after a maximum validity period by a person who holds that Aadhaar number. This, UIDAI said, will reduce the collection of Aadhaar numbers by various agencies.

The UIDAI has also introduced Limited KYC (Know Your Customer) and UID Tokens, in an attempt to assuage privacy and security concerns about the misuse of Aadhaar numbers.

Former Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman Nandan Nilekani welcomed the move to put in place a two-layer security to reinforce privacy protection for aadhaar card holders. Calling the recent reports of data breach an “orchestrated campaign” to malign Aadhaar, Nilekani said, “I think this is a very significant announcement by UIDAI and in some sense it really makes the case against it go away.”

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