The Supreme Court has banned private entities from seeking sensitive Aadhaar information.
Aadhaar can act as a digital wall capable of preventing the re-entry of illegal immigrants into the system once their enrolment has been cancelled, a top official of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has told NDTV.
Responding to media reports on Rohingya migrants getting their hands on passports and Aadhaar cards, UIDAI Chief Executive Officer Ajay Bhushan Pandey said they are putting together a mechanism that will facilitate the cancellation of such illegally acquired documentation when approached by police and other government agencies. "We can not only cancel Aadhaar but also ensure through the offenders' biometric data that they never apply for it again, preventing their re-entry into the system," Mr Pandey claimed.
In view of the Supreme Court prohibiting private entities from seeking Aadhaar details in return for services, the UIDAI is now advocating the use of the less-intrusive offline Aadhaar verification. This way, users can be verified through the electronic version of the card without gaining access to sensitive biometric data.
Mr Pandey conceded that some telecom firms were still seeking Aadhaar authentication from new customers. "We have asked mobile service providers to come up with an exit plan," he said. "However, customers who already have Aadhaar information linked to their mobile connections and banks will have to approach service providers with alternative KYC (know your customer) documents to get it delinked. There will be no automatic deletion of Aadhaar details."
When asked to comment on reports that the Election Commission had linked over 30 crore voter IDs with Aadhaar cards without consent in 2015, the UIDAI official said: "As the law stands today, voter IDs and Aadhaar cannot be linked. That can happen only if the law is changed."
So, is there any such law on the anvil? The UIDAI is in talks with various stakeholders in this regard, Mr Pandey said, but it was up to the government to take the final call.