by Elton Gomes
The Government on Thursday rubbished reports stating 50 crore mobile numbers could face disconnection if their SIM cards, which were procured on the basis of Aadhaar, were not backed up by a fresh identification.
The government announced that it will be introducing a new digital authentication mechanism for issuance of SIM cards, while asserting that there was no need to panic.
Earlier on Thursday, reports mentioned that almost half of India’s phone population, or nearly 50 crore mobile users who have obtained a SIM card by showing Aadhaar as proof, could face the risk of having their SIM cards disconnected.
What has the government said?
The department of telecommunications (DoT) and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said issued a joint statement on Thursday. The statement said that the Supreme Court has prohibited issuing new SIM cards through Aadhaar eKYC authentication process and there is no direction to deactivate the old mobile phones.
“Hon’ble Supreme Court in its judgement in Aadhaar case has nowhere directed that the mobile number which has been issued through Aadhaar eKYC has to be disconnected. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for panic or fear at all,” the joint statement said, Zee News reported.
The DoT clarified that the apex court had not asked telecommunications companies to destroy all eKYC data within six months. The Supreme Court’s order said that the UIDAI should not keep authentication logs for more than six months.
“What the apex Court has asked is that UIDAI should not keep authentication log for more than 6 months. The restriction is on UIDAI and not on the telecom companies. Therefore, there is no need for telecom companies to delete authentication logs at their end,” the joint statement said, the Economic Times reported.
“In the light of the verdict, if anybody wishes to get her or his Aadhaar eKYC replaced by the fresh KYC, she or he may request the service provider for de-linking of their Aadhaar by submitting fresh OVDs (official valid documents) as per earlier DOT circulars on mobile KYC. But in any case his mobile number will not be disconnected,” the statement said, as per the Zee News report.
OTP could be used for authentication
In the statement, both bodies said that an alternative process has been proposed. “In the proposed process, live photograph of the person with latitude, longitude, and time stamp will be captured. The photo of the person’s ID such as Aadhaar card, voter ID, etc., will be captured. The SIM card will be authenticated through OTP and then issued,” the statement said, as per a report in Live Mint.
The statement clarified that if anybody wishes to get her/his Aadhaar eKYC replaced by the fresh KYC, he/she can request the service provider for delinking his/her Aadhaar by submitting a different proof of identification. However, in any case her/his mobile number will not be discontinued.
SC verdict on Aadhaar
In its verdict, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and ruled that the Aadhaar Act does not violate any individual’s right to privacy. The apex court, in its ruling, barred private entities from using Aadhaar data for KYC authentication purposes. The court ruled that an Aadhaar card will still be needed for various other purposes including obtaining a PAN card and filing of income tax returns.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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