Virtual ID for Aadhaar: How the new security feature works

In Rajasthan in the PDS exclusion because of fingerprint failure has been close to 36 per cent

Recent media reports also fuelled the general concern about the privacy and security of Aadhaar-related data. "This is unparalleled in the world", UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said.

The new feature has also failed to impress the opposition parties.

What is Virtual ID (VID)?

Where to get the VID? . "No one else including the authentication agency can generate this VID on behalf of Aadhaar holder", the UIDAI explained.

Kiran also points out that as long as local and global AUAs are not defined clearly, the usage of VIDs remains limited.

"Last digit of the VID is the checksum using "Verhoeff" algorithm as in Aadhaar number". This will give the users the option of not sharing their Aadhaar number at the time of authentication.

The authority has regulated the storage of Aadhaar number within various databases. "These are likely to be entities which require de-duplication for subsidy transfer, such as banks and government agencies". UIDAI has introduced Virtual ID (VID) that is a 16-digit randomly generated number. All authentication bodies have to fully migrate to the new system by June 1, and those failing to meet the deadline will face financial disincentives. This, UIDAI hopes, will ensure that no one, except the holder, can access the person's Aadhaar number. That's where the new concept of limited KYC comes in. There were further news reports of police reports being filed against the reporters, which were denied by UIDAI and MeitY. For any kind of verification with virtual ID, only name, address and photograph will be shared.

To avoid the chance of an Authentication User Agency (AUA) misusing access to the massive database with the Aadhaar details of a billion people, the UIDAI has split them into two-Global AUAs and Local AUAs. Instead, they will get a tokenised number issued by UIDAI to identify their customers.

- Authentication may be performed using VID in a manner similar to using Aadhaar number. The UID Token will be a 72-character alphanumeric string meant only for system usage. New security layer is like locking the stable after horses have bolted. "UIDAI needs to re-issue fresh Aadhaar numbers to solve the problem, which is highly unlikely", said Srinivas Kodali, an independent data security researcher, to Medianama, a portal for information and analysis on digital and telecom businesses in India.

He was reacting to filing of an FIR on The Tribune newspaper report relating to Aadhaar data breach. The Punjab and Haryana High Court is scheduled to hear a PIL against UIDAI for this data leak today.

In 2010, over 200 government agencies (with access to the accounts) accidentally published sensitive Aadhaar info online, and since 2015, banking fraud has run rampant on Aadhaar users, with identity thieves attempting to open bank accounts in their names.

Even the new virtual ID wouldn't undo the damage done by the UIDAI head himself, experts say.



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