On July 28th, TRAI chairman Ram Sewak Sharma voluntarily disclosed his Aadhaar number on social networking site, Twitter. He had done so, challenging anyone to cause him harm based on the open declaration of his Aadhaar on a public domain.
The resulting challenge was accepted by multiple hackers who managed to fetch his residential address, PAN number, date of birth, mobile number and profile pictures, from his Aadhaar. UIDAI, which is the statutory authority under which Aadhaar’s database is maintained, declared that no data was retrieved from the Aadhaar number of Mr.Sharma. They also ascertained that the news of data infringement using Aadhaar is fake.
Aadhaar in India
The word ‘Aadhaar’ in Hindi means ‘foundation’. It is a 12-digit unique identity number that is issued to identify citizens residing in India. The identity is maintained based on your biometric and demographics. The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) – which is the statutory authority established by the Government of India. As of now, over 99% of Indians above the age of 18 have enrolled in Aadhaar. Aadhaar is a proof of residence and not a proof of citizenship. Despite the comparison to USA’s Social Security Number, Aadhaar in fact offers more uses to its members.
Aadhaar Card Structure
The Aadhaar Card is a colored document that is mostly printed over glossy paper and is available electronically in a PDF format. According to the Government of India, a Xeroxed black and white version of Aadhaar is deemed invalid. The Aadhaar Card’s header section contains the:
- Enrolment Number
- Full name of the card holder (in state language and in English)
- Name of the card holder’s father (or husband)
- Residential address
- Phone number
- PDF electronic signature self-signed by UIDAI
- Downloaded date
- Generation date
- Aadhaar number (in state language and in English)
- QR code (the QR code contains an encoded version of some of the data in XML format)
The rear of the document contains the emblem of the Republic of India, Aadhaar logo among general information about the Aadhaar Card.
The Aadhaar Card information can be validated online. The updating of the information can be done electronically using a mobile phone number or email as a second factor of authentication. The system collects a photograph, all 10 finger scans and eye scan.
Aadhaar Benefits and Uses
Aadhaar is used in a number of government-based schemes which is beneficial to citizens in India. Some Aadhaar based benefits are.
- Election Card – From the year 2015, the Aadhaar Card was to be linked to one’s voter ID. The purpose for this was to tackle bogus voters.
- LPG Subsidy – The Aadhaar number is used to avail an LPG subsidy amount directly to your bank account. This scheme is called as PAHAL. To avail of this benefit, a citizen must link his Aadhaar number to his/her LPG consumer number.
- Jan Dhan Yojana – Also known as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, this scheme allows citizens to open a bank account making use of only the Aadhaar number as proof. You can make use of other documents as well but using only the Aadhaar allows you to maintain a zero-balance savings account, along with life and accident insurance.
- Passport – Possessing an Aadhaar Card can get you a passport in just 10 days. The police verification is done at a later date.
- Pension – All pensioners from select states need to register their Aadhaar Card number to receive monthly pension. This was initiated to avoid any fake pension beneficiaries.
- Digital Locker – Using the Aadhaar allows citizens in India to open a digital locker which will be housed on the government’s server. The signup process requires you to provide your 12-digit Aadhaar Card number.
- PPF – The provident fund money will be given the account holder only if he/she is registered with the EPFO (Employment Provident Fund Organization)
- SEBI – Aadhaar Card is accepted as a proof of address by the Securities and Exchange Board of India for investing in stocks.
- Biometric attendance – From July 2014, government offices were installed with Aadhaar enabled attendance. This was done to check for late arriving employees.
- Land records – The integration of land records and its monitoring is done by linking it to Aadhaar.
- SIM cards – From 2015, Aadhaar linked SIM cards started to be sold as a pilot project. This was part of the Digital India project.
- Mobile number – Since February 2018, all existing mobile subscribers are needed to link the customer’s Aadhaar to their mobile number or the connection would be deactivated. Likewise, new connections are needed to be linked with Aadhaar. The Supreme Court, however, has asked for ceasing on linkage of Aadhaar to mobile connection, until further confirmation.
- Income Tax return – To curb black money, since January 1st 2018, the PAN Card and Aadhaar Card must be linked to avail of IT returns. Not doing so would lead to the deactivation of the PAN and the return would be considered invalid.
- Investments – From January 1st 2018, the Aadhaar must be submitted while doing investments related to mutual funds.
- Driving license – Soon, the Aadhaar would be required to be linked to your driver’s license.
- Banking – New bank account holders must provide their Aadhaar. Financial transactions above Rs.50000 must be accompanied with an Aadhaar Card copy.
Aadhaar Safe for Online Usage?
Your fingerprint is part of the world’s largest biometric ID system. We have almost 1.2 billion citizens enrolled on it (as per UIDAI portal). That is the extent of Aadhaar – a system that is allowing every Indian to be part of one authentication document for every government procedure.
Loan Singh is a digital lending platform which allows salaried individuals to apply for a personal loan and do so by submitting their PAN, Aadhaar and 6 months bank statement PDF. The Aadhaar Card as a mandatory document for loan eligibility and prospective disbursement. Developed by Seynse Technologies, Loan Singh ensures complete secrecy and protection of your Aadhaar and other personal information.
Aadhaar holds personal and sensitive data of the user. With personal and biometric information gathered for close to a billion people, UIDAI holds probably the largest database in the world. This obviously means UIDAI takes enhanced precautions to ensure the information is safe. UIDAI also does not contain information with regards to health, caste, religion, bank accounts, financial property etc. As per Section 32 (3) of the Aadhaar Act 2016, UIDAI cannot control, collect or maintain any financial information of the user.