The central government a day back issued a statement promptly after Unique Identification Authority of India, Bengaluru regional office, had warned people not to share Aadhaar numbers. The ministry of electronics and IT in a statement on Sunday, however, withdrew the statement and clarified that Aadhaar card holders may use ‘normal prudence’ in sharing their Aadhaar numbers. This came after the UIDAI Bengaluru Office’s advisory triggered a row in the country regarding the security of Aadhaar, as the notice had mentioned that Aadhaar numbers could be misused. The Centre, however, stepped in later and clarified that this stand was withdrawn with immediate effect.
Aadhaar Misuse Row: What UIDAI Bengaluru Office Said
In a notification dated May 27, the UIDAI advised citizens against sharing the photocopy of Aadhaar with any organisation as it can be misused. It asked people to use a masked Aadhaar that displays only the last four digits of the Aadhaar number.
“Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has warned the general public not to share photocopy of one’s Aadhaar with any organizations because it can be misused. Alternatively, a masked Aadhaar which displays only the last 4 digits of your Aadhaar number can be used for the purpose,” it had said.
It also advised the citizens not to download copies of Aadhaar from a public computer, and if done so, to delete them from the local device. “However if one does so, it should be ensured that all the downloaded copies of e-Aadhaar permanently deleted from that computer.”
Unlicensed private entities like hotels or film halls are not permitted to collect or keep copies of Aadhaar card, it further said, adding that it was an offence under Aadhaar Act, 2016.
Ministry of Electronics and IT Withdraws Statement
The Centre on May 29, Sunday, issued a counter statement saying that the Bengaluru regional office of the UIDAI issued the statement in the “context of an attempt to misuse a photoshopped Aadhaar card”.
However, since the advisory triggered a row across the country over Aadhaar security, the IT ministry said it was withdrawing the statement. “However, in view of the possibility of the misinterpretation of the Press Release, the same stands withdrawn with immediate effect.”
The Centre asked citizens to keep using Aadhaar with normal prudence as it was safe to do so. “UIDAI issued Aadhaar card holders are only advised to exercise normal prudence in using and sharing their UIDAI Aadhaar numbers. Aadhaar Identity Authentication ecosystem has provided adequate features for protecting and safeguarding the identity and privacy of the Aadhaar holder.”
What Should Aadhaar Card Holders Do?
While the Centre and the UIDAI have time and again clarified regarding the security features of Aadhaar, those who do not want to share their Aadhaar number can use an alternative feature. The UIDAI provides an option of downloading a masked Aadhaar, which displays only the last four digits of the 16-digit Aadhaar number. It can be downloaded from the UIDAI website.
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