The UIDAI added, "while it is important to ensure that Aadhaar number holders can use their identity information to avail many products and services, the collection and storage of Aadhaar numbers by various entities has heightened privacy concerns". It's an optional service, and it would be a 16-digit random number mapped on to the 12-digit Aadhaar number.
UIDAI will be releasing necessary APIs (application programming interfaces) by 1 March and all agencies have been directed to make the necessary changes for the use of virtual ID, UID token and limited KYC and operationalize it by 1 June.
The Aadhaar-issuing body's CEO, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, tweeted "Virtual [ID] is one of biggest recent innovations in this field". "I am clueless about how it is going to help or how it will work in rural areas", he said. This idea, he said, has been in the books since the first conceptualisation of the Aadhaar system, but was put on hold at the time. "Aadhaar holder can use Virtual ID in lieu of Aadhaar number whenever authentication or KYC services are performed". This virtual ID is temporary and can only be generated by the user. Though the Aadhaar matter comes up for hearing before a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court on January 17, the two pieces of news, related in a way, tell us what's the stance of the UIDAI is going to be despite mounting evidence of Aadhaar's shaky, leaky structure. The report debunked the stand of UIDAI and the government that its database can not be breached. Now it will be impossible to access your linked Aadhaar details.
Meanwhile, Many people have been opposing the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with other services over privacy concerns.
All the remaining AUAs will be branded as Local AUAs and will neither get access to full KYC, nor can they store the Aadhaar number on their systems. "There will be only one active and valid VID for an Aadhaar number at any given time", the UIDAI said in a statement.
"It will not be possible to derive the Aadhaar number from the virtual ID", a circular issued by UIDAI said.
Thus, already the database of Aadhaar card holders has been available to these American companies which are linked to USA security agencies, the editorial said.
According to a report, the UIDAI claims that they are now busy working on a "Virtual ID" for months, and the declared was made at a time privacy concerns around Aadhaar peaked.
The Aadhaar debate just doesn't seem to settle anytime soon.
The data collection scheme also received a lot of bad press after the government chose to file a lawsuit against the publication and the reporter who broke the story. The complete statement from UIDAI is available here.
The decision to provide a temporary reprieve to Airtel on 21 December was taken after Rs138 crore of funds under the direct benefit transfer scheme were credited back to the original accounts of 5.6 million beneficiaries.