Two days after it issued an advisory cautioning people against sharing a photocopy of their Aadhar card, the government on Sunday withdraw the notification, claiming that it could be “misinterpreted”. A perusal of past tweets by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which manages Aadhar, shows the about-turn reveals confusion on its policy regarding photocopies of Aadhar.
The Bengaluru Regional Office of the UIDAI, on May 27, published a notification asking people to not share photocopies of their Aadhaar card as it could be “misused”.
That notification also advised against using a public computer to download electronic versions of the Aadhar and only those organizations with a ‘user license’ from the UIDAI could use Aadhar for establishing a person’s identity. Hotels and cinema halls weren’t authorized to collect photocopies of Aadhar.
Following this advisory on May 27, social media erupted with claims that the advisory had come too late as several outlets, ranging from hospitals to hotels, insisted on retaining photocopies of Aadhar cards.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the parent body of the UIDAI, said, “The release advised the people to not share photocopy of their Aadhaar with any organization because it can be misused. Alternatively, a masked Aadhaar which displays only the last 4 digits of Aadhaar number, can be used. However, in view of the possibility of the misinterpretation of the Press Release, the same stands withdrawn with immediate effect.”
On November 11, 2016, the UIDAI from its official handle tweeted: “We urge you to be very discreet abt (sic) your Aadhar and other identity documents. Do not share the document no. or a printed copy with anyone.”
It has then on multiple occasions publicly stated that Aadhar details, without biometric information, could not be used to impersonate a person. However, being a document that detailed a person’s personal information, it was akin to giving out a mobile phone number, or a bank account number or a PAN card and ought to be “ordinarily protected” to ensure a person’s privacy, it was said.
“Aadhar as an identity document by its very nature needs to be shared openly with others as and when required for,” said a tweet by the UIDAI on March 17, 2018.
MeitY, in its withdrawal statement on Sunday, said the UIDAI had advised Aadhaar card holders to only exercise “normal prudence” in using and sharing their Aadhaar numbers and that their Bangalore subsidiary’s advisory — that now stood withdrawn — was in the context of an attempt to misuse an Aadhar card using a photocopy. No other details were shared.
“Aadhaar Identity Authentication ecosystem has provided adequate features for protecting and safeguarding the identity and privacy of the Aadhaar holder,” the statement added.
What is a masked Aadhaar?
An Aadhaar number consists of 12 digits. Masking an Aadhaar number means replacing the first eight digits with some characters like “xxxx-xxxx” while only the last four digits of the original number are visible
HOW TO DOWNLOAD A MASKED AADHAAR?
Downloading an electronic version of masked Aadhaar card is a five-step process:
1. Go to the link https://eaadhaar.uidai.gov.in/genricDownloadAadhaar
2. Type your Aadhaar card number and enter the captcha
3. There will be an option “Do you want a masked Aadhaar”. Select it
4. Enter the OTP received on your mobile phone
5. Verify and download your masked Aadhaar card