The government on Friday 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 announcement comes after the apex court had restricted the use of Aadhaar by private entities in the absence of a legal provision in a landmark verdict last month.
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, 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.
The announcement comes amidst consumers posting on Twitter how telecom operators are still mandating the use of Aadhaar as the primary source of electronic verification. The use of Aadhaar for obtaining a new SIM card connection became normal after Reliance Jio commenced its operations in late 2016.
The use of such a verification system, according to telecom operator, simplified verification of new customers, since Aadhaar was given only to those who have been thoroughly vetted for sufficient proof of identity and residence. This led to most telecom operators switching to Aadhaar for e-KYC and led to increase in number of private companies forcing Aadhaar as the primary use of authentication. This also led to scare of large data breach resulting in loss of data of millions and billions of Indians.
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With the order from the Supreme Court, private companies cannot willingly force Aadhaar upon their customers and can only accept it when they voluntarily offer it as proof of identity. With the verdict, Aadhaar will only be necessary in the case of emergencies and not in the case of acquiring non-essential service from private players.
Written with inputs from agencies