Abiding by the Supreme Court’s order that it is not mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and the telecom service providers cannot seek its linking for mobile connections, the government is now pushing for offline verification tools such as QR cordes and paperless KYC.
The apex court in its September 26 ruling had upheld the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid, observing that the unique bio-metric ID neither tends to create a “surveillance state” nor it infringed the Right to Privacy.
Furthermore, it said that Aadhaar would remain mandatory for filing of IT returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN) but not for school admissions and also for the examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical entrance and the University Grants Commission.
With the offline verification tools for Aadhaar, the users will not be asked to reveal their Aadhaar numbers. Under ‘paperless eKYC’ feature offered by UIDAI for offline verification, users can store the same on laptop or phone. To establish ID, they can then share the zip file with a ‘share code’.
The KYC process will not even need users to reveal their Aadhaar numbers, the collection of which has often been subject to controversies over potential data mining and tracking. The offline processes will fulfill the Supreme Court’s order ruling out biometrics-based Aadhaar authentication for private firms.
The offline KYC can be used by service providers, including government, and will be in addition to other IDs such as driving licenses, ration and electoral photo cards, passports and PAN cards.
Another method of offline verification is QR codes. Aadhaar holders can download and print their bio-metric ID with the QR code from the website of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) or its mobile app.
The feature contains the photograph of the Aadhaar user, which allows various user agencies to verify the authenticity of Aadhaar card data offline.
“The offline QR code is a landmark development which will allow everyone to establish their identity through offline verification without giving out Aadhaar number.
Only in those places where Aadhaar number is required under the law including banks, telecom companies, or for availing subsidies, one will have to go through the authentication process,” Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of Aadhaar-issuing body UIDAI, was quoted as saying in a report.