The Unique Identification Authority of India on Wednesday put in place a two-layer security to reinforce privacy protection for Aadhaar ID number holders. Accordingly, it has introduced a virtual identification for the ID holders so that the actual number need not be shared to authenticate their identity. Simultaneously, it has further regulated the storage of the Aadhaar number within various databases.
It will be a temporary and revocable 16-digit randomly-generated number which will be used for authentication. Moreover, it will not be possible to derive the Aadhaar number from VID. The VID of the user would give any authorized agency like a mobile company limited details like name, address, and photograph. It will not be possible to locate one’s Aadhaar number based on this ID.
ET was the first to report on the UIDAI plan to introduce virtual numbers to address security concerns in its November 20 edition last year. A top government official told ET that UIDAI has been working on this technology since July of 2016. This is going to be one of the biggest innovations ever, people can change their virtual ID whenever they want or after every authentication or every 10 seconds. He added that this will silence most critics of Aadhaar.
The UIDAI it will not be possible to derive the Aadhaar number using a VID. For any given Aadhaar number there will only be one active VID at any given time the Aadhaar-holder will be able to revoke or generate a new one after a maximum validity period. Since the VID will be temporary it can’t be deduplicated, nor will authentication agencies be able to generate one on behalf of the Aadhaar-number holder.
If virtual IDs are made mandatory that would address the privacy concern of multiple private entities being able to create detailed profiles of you by using your Aadhaar number. But it wouldn’t address concerns people have relating to security to exclusion from benefits to the centralized biometric database nor to Aadhaar facilitating various governments gaining an overall view of your life Pranesh Prakash, policy director at think tank Centre for Internet and Society.