MUMBAI: The Centre on Sunday withdrew a UIDAI advisory issued on Friday warning against sharing of photocopies of the national biometric identity card Aadhaar with any organisation because it could be misused.
"Only those organizations that have obtained a User License from the UIDAI can use Aadhaar for establishing the identity of a person. Unlicensed private entities like hotels or film halls are not permitted to collect or keep copies of Aadhaar cards. It is an offence under the Aadhaar Act 2016. If a private entity demands to see your Aadhaar card, or seeks a photocopy of your Aadhaar card, please verify that they have valid User License from the UIDAI," the advisory had said.
As an alternative, it recommended use of "masked Aadhaar," that displays only the last 4 digits of the 12-digit Aadhaar number.
However, fearing misinterpretation of the press release, the UIDAI on Sunday withdrew its advisory and asked the Aadhaar card holders to exercise normal prudence in using and sharing of their Aadhaar numbers.
The warning and its subsequent withdrawal triggered alarm on social media as screenshots of the press release and news articles went viral, with the issue among the top 10 trending topics on Twitter on Sunday.
Incidentally, the Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI, says in response to its frequently asked questions, "It is near impossible to impersonate you if you use Aadhar to prove your identity."
Speaking on the subject, Advocate (Dr) Prashant Mali, a cyber crime lawyer, told FPJ, "If the government had not withdrawn its advisory then there would have been practical difficulties. Employees need to submit their Aadhaar copies to their offices and the places where work is done only through Aadhaar such as Aadhaar Enabled Payment System. If the government wants to implement something related to Aadhaar then they will have to give sufficient time to the citizens and awareness will have to be created. The government will have to do away with this culture of accepting Aadhaar copies. Masked Aadhaar is safe and the government will have to make policies of accepting masked Aadhaar. Copies of Aadhaar can be misused to procure SIM cards, take small loans from applications."