UIDAI Introduces Virtual ID System to Improve Aadhaar Privacy

The flaw resides in the USSD service that UIDAI publicly shared in December last year

This 16-digit number will be transmitted to Aadhaar servers which will link the token to the individual's Aadhaar number and confirm the person's identity.

There will be no limit on generating the number of "Virtual ID" for a user. The new measures, which will be introduced by March 1, will provide up to two layers of firewalls between the Aadhaar-holder and authentication agencies from getting access to an Aadhaar number.

Last week, media reports had claimed a breach in Aadhaar database and that access to crucial info was available for an amount as little as Rs 500, which was later denied by UIDAI.

Under the new system, at the user-end, the Aadhaar holder will have the choice not to share their Aadhaar number at the time of authentication. And the moment a new ID is generated, the older one gets deactivated.

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In a rare move, Wednesday's circular recognised concerns around multiple agencies storing Aadhaar number of their customers.

In this context, the Unique Identification Authority, or UIDAI, made a decision to restrict most private firms from retaining Aadhaar numbers of their customers or others.

All agencies will migrate to the new system by June 1, the report said. Aadhaar number holder can use Virtual ID in place of Aadhaar number whenever authentication or KYC services are performed. Additionally, to "regulate" the number of agencies where Aadhaar is required and stored as a proof of identity to avail services, the UIDAI has introduced the concept of Limited KYC.

The agencies will not be allowed to generate a virtual ID on behalf of the holder. This ID along with biometrics of the user, like name, address, and photographs, can provide the necessary details to the concerned agency, without being able to track the actual Aadhaar number of the user. The UID will wipe out the possibility of offices putting away Aadhaar number and enable them to their own KYC without depending on the 12-digit biometric code.