NEW DELHI, Oct 1 (PTI): The UIDAI Monday asked telecom companies to submit within next 15 days a plan to stop using Aadhaar for customer authentication, days after the Supreme Court imposed curbs on the use of the 12-digit unique ID number. A circular to this effect has been issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to telecom service providers (TSPs), including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and others. The UIDAI circular, seen by PTI, says: “…all TSPs are called upon to immediately take actions in order to comply with the judgement dated 26.09.2018. In this regard, TSPs are hereby directed to submit by 15th October, 2018, an action plan/exit plan to the authority for closure of use of Aadhaar based authentication systems…”
Significantly, the UIDAI has also asked all telecom operators to “take immediate cognizance” of the request for delinking Aadhaar with mobile number as and when such requests are received from subscribers. The authority noted that TSPs may take appropriate action to perform fresh KYC as per the Department of Telecom (DoT) approved list of proof of identity, and proof of address within six months from the date of such request to avoid de-activation of the mobile number.
“All TSPs shall immediately notify their customers the facility of delinking their Aadhaar number and the UID token from their database and establish a system to accept and process such requests for delinking,” UIDAI said adding that the “process of delinking” should form a part of the exit plan that has been sought. The Supreme Court, last week, struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which allowed private companies to use the 12-digit biometric ID-based eKYC. Following this, private companies like telecom operators will not be able to use this instantaneous and inexpensive Aadhaar eKYC route. This would mean that the industry will have to revert to alternates like legacy paper-based technique (collect physical paper forms with signature, photographs, ship to verification centre and call up the customer to cross-verify submitted details). The turn around times in this route is between 24-36 hours. When contacted, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said: “In order to ensure smooth discontinuation…there are certain requirements which are there under the Aadhaar regulations…so the companies are in the best position to know what exactly is needed and they can submit their plan by October 15. If any additional requirements are to be done from the UIDAI side, we will tell them after receipt of their plan.” TSPs may be liable for contempt of court for any non-compliance, the UIDAI said in its instruction to telecom companies. Quoting from the Supreme Court judgement, the UIDAI circular said it is understood that neither can the telecommunication service providers continue using Aadhaar number for the purpose of issuance of new SIM cards nor for the re-verification of existing SIM cards under Telecom Department’s circular dated March 23, 2017.