The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) officials will meet banking and telecom regulators to decide on the fate of Aadhaar linkage to essential services such as mobile numbers, bank accounts, and more. The officials will be deciding on whether there is a need for fresh deadlines as services grapple to connect the accounts of millions of Indians with the biometric-based identification.
In the coming weeks, UIDAI officials will be meeting officials from various government ministries, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to decide if the current deadline of linkage (March 31) should be extended.
This is not the first time officials are mulling an extension of the deadline. This time, in line with the new security protocols, the step to extend the deadline is being considered. Virtual ID, which masks the user’s Aadhaar number to safeguard privacy, and yet allow linkage or usage, will come into effect from June. However, the deadline for linkage being March 31 could mean a lot of users worried about security could again refrain from linking their important details to the unique ID.
In an ET report, a top government official is quoted as saying, “Any scheme for which money goes from the Consolidated Fund of India will require Aadhaar,” the official added. “Our view is that people are more comfortable sharing (Aadhaar number) with government agencies as compared to private ones.”
The official further states that the government will soon hold meetings with telecom department officials to know whether they think companies require Aadhaar numbers. This is particularly important for services such as insurance and mutual funds.
Last year, the government mandated the linking of Aadhaar to services such as PAN, bank account, mobile numbers, along with various schemes including post office deposits, the public provident fund (PPF), the National Savings Certificate scheme and Kisan Vikas Patra.
According to the top official, the government will permit extension if people demand so. The meeting between UIDAI officials, government and private bodies is unlikely to have an impact on services such as bank accounts, PAN, government subsidy schemes such as cooking gas, public distribution system, as these require Aadhaar-based identification to curb the misuse of services.
These discussions hold importance for telecom operators, mutual funds, and insurance services as these are private companies and may demand an extension.