In yet another example of why Aadhaar is a mess, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) accepted the truth that Aadhaar or Aadhaar number could be misused, only to backtrack and withdraw its press note released on 27th May.
In a release issued through Press Information Bureau (PIB) on 29 May 2022
, UIDAI says, "...in view of the possibility of the misinterpretation of the press release (of 27th May), the same stands withdrawn with immediate effect. UIDAI issued Aadhaar cardholders are only advised to exercise normal prudence in using and sharing their UIDAI Aadhaar numbers."
In its release on 27th May, the UIDAI
, which works under the ministry of electronics & information technology (MeitY), says, "Do not share photocopy of your Aadhaar with any organisations because it can be misused. Alternatively, please use a masked Aadhaar which displays only the last four digits of your Aadhaar number."
Further, "...avoid using a public computer at an internet café or kiosk to download e-Aadhaar. However, if you do so, please ensure that you delete all the downloaded copies of e-Aadhaar permanently from that computer," UIDAI says.
Interestingly, crores of Aadhaar-holders, mainly from rural areas, have no option but to seek help from an internet cafe or kiosk for their Aadhaar. Since most of them are clueless about the Aadhaar download procedure, they will never ask the computer operator to delete their Aadhaar from the system. All these people are interested in a printout of Aadhaar for submitting to somewhere, without which their work gets hampered.
Coming back to the release, UIDAI says, masked Aadhaar can be downloaded from its official website https://myaadhaar.uidai.gov.in
by selecting the option 'Do you want a masked Aadhaar' and proceed to download. "The existence of any Aadhaar number can be verified at https://myaadhaar.uidai.gov.in/verifyAadhaar
. To verify offline, you can scan the QR code on eAadhaar or Aadhaar letter or Aadhaar PVC card using QR code scanner in the mAadhaar mobile application," it added.
it says, "Only those organisations that have obtained a user license from the UIDAI can use Aadhaar for establishing the identity of a person. Unlicensed private entities like hotels or film halls are not permitted to collect or keep copies of Aadhaar card. It is an offence under the Aadhaar Act 2016. If a private entity demands to see your Aadhaar card, or seeks a photocopy of your Aadhaar card, please verify that they have a valid user license from the UIDAI."
It, however, is silent about how one would know and verify if the entity seeking voluntary mandatory Aadhaar holds a user licence from UIDAI.
The common experience is that everyone, from mobile operators to local bodies, asks for Aadhaar for any sundry work saying its mandatory and that the work cannot be done without it. Unless you know and argue that as per the legal provision, Aadhaar is not mandatory and can only be voluntary, these entities will pressurise you to submit Aadhaar.
Here is the release issued by UIDAI through PIB Thiruvananthpuram...