After receiving backlash from the general public, the Government has withdrawn a warning that asked users not to share their national biometric ID.
The reaction came after the regional office of UIDAI, a body that supervises the national biometric ID system Aadhaar, warned users that ‘unlicensed private entities’ are not allowed to collect or keep copies of Aadhaar.
The warning highlighted that people should not share photocopies of their Aadhaar in hotels and theatre halls etc., to prevent misuse.
India receives backlash
Once the office issued the warning, it prompted a wide backlash from the public. People said they were not ‘aware’ of such a possibility before. An individual summed up the dilemma of the entire population by tweeting that he might have stayed in 100 hotels that kept a copy of his Aadhaar.
The advisory issued by the regional office read that individuals should use a masked Aadhaar, which only displays the last four digits of their Aadhaar number. It added that only those organizations that have a User License from the UIDAI are permitted to use Aadhaar to verify a person’s identity.
“Unlicensed private entities like hotels or film halls are not permitted to collect or keep copies of Aadhaar card,” the warning said.
Ministry withdraws statement
On Sunday, India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT downplayed the warning after receiving criticism. It said that the Bengaluru Regional Office of UIDAI issued the original warning with the intent of spreading awareness about the possible ‘mishandling’ of a ‘photoshopped’ Aadhaar card.
However, in view of the possibility of the misinterpretation of the press release, the same stands withdrawn with immediate effect,” the Ministry’s notification said. It further added that UIDAI issued Aadhaar cardholders should ‘exercise normal prudence’ in using and sharing their Aadhaar numbers.
The Aadhaar Identity Authentication ecosystem has provided adequate features for protecting and safeguarding the identity and privacy of the Aadhaar holder,” the statement read.
While Aadhaar has been labeled the world’s most ‘sophisticated’ ID system, critics have often expressed their concerns over its use being made important across many daily life services. Despite India marketing it as a ‘voluntary’ ID system, its function has extended to everyday life services.