Aadhaar’s Virtual ID: An added Layer of Security to Prevent Profiling


Aadhaar authorities have come up with a system of virtual ID that will now be used in place of Aadhaar card number to protect the privacy of the cardholders. In a recent interview given to NDTV, the Unique Identification Authority of India’s Chief Executive Officer Ajay Bhushan Pandey clarified certain details about the system. He explained that the virtual ID number is just an added layer of security and it doesn’t imply that the actual Aadhaar system was in any way vulnerable.

Under the new system that will come into effect from June 1, a 16-digit random number will be generated through a two-step process. While making transactions, the cardholder can use this virtual ID for authentication and will never have to share their Aadhaar numbers.

This will be a temporary ID and will not be generated by anyone except the cardholder. Further to ensure security, a “limited KYC” mechanism will regulate how agencies store Aadhaar details. UIDAI also clarified that the virtual ID hasn’t been introduced to cover up the security risk with Aadhaar system. It was actually thought of in 2009-10 when the Aadhaar system was being designed.

The Virtual ID will act as a “pseudo Aadhaar number” that will ensure that transactions can be carried out without accessing the actual Aadhaar number of the respective users.

It’s important to note that on January 4th, a report alleged that the Aadhaar details of millions of people were easily available. Since then, a lot of questions have been raised on the security of the system and users are concerned about their privacy. However, former UIDAI Chairperson Nandan Nilekani stated that the matter has been “blown out of proportion” as too many security layers have been built under the system.