Starting July 1, people who want a new SIM card or want to re-verify their existing connections, will have the option to either provide their Aadhaar number or a secure a Virtual ID in its place. The initiative was proposed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
The Economic Times cited a notice from the telecom department yesterday saying, “All licensees shall implement the changes proposed by UIDAI regarding use of virtual ID as an alternative of Aadhaar number, UID tokens and limited KYC concept in their systems, networks subject to adherence of existing Aadhaar-based e-KYC processes for issuing new mobile connections to subscribers and re-verification of existing mobile subscribers.”
With the new initiative, users who do not want to share their Aadhaar details in fear of the data being misused, will have the option now of the using a Aadhaar Virtual ID (VID) instead. The Virtual ID can be used to authenticate transactions and other e-KYC services. The VID will basically be a random 16-digit number which will be mapped to your Aadhaar details temporarily. It is revocable and can be generated multiple number of times, making it a much safer option compared to using your actual Aadhaar number.
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In the notice by DoT, it was also stated that it is compulsory for all licensees to provide their subscribers with the option of feeding either the Aadhaar number or the virtual ID as per their preference. Additionally, telcos have also been asked to replace Aadhaar numbers of existing subscribers with UID tokens (provided by the UIDAI) as a one-time measure.
Besides Virtual IDs, DoT has also started a limited KYC initiative, where users can only share the specific information required for authentication with an agency and not the full details of their Aadhaar number.