Centre withdraws warning on Aadhaar card after online panic

The Aadhaar card, which has a unique number tied to an individual's fingerprints, face and eye scan, aims to block theft and leakage in India's welfare schemes
Last Updated 29 May 2022, 12:45 IST

The Centre on Sunday withdrew its latest advisory that warned citizens not to share photocopies of their Aadhaar cards with any organisation as they can be misused.

The new statement said the Aadhaar ecosystem had adequate features to protect the identity and privacy of users and that users are only advised to exercise "normal prudence" while using and sharing Aadhaar numbers.

The UIDAI issued its latest statement clarifying its stand after its previous press release triggered panic.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Friday had issued a statement suggesting the use of masked Aadhaar, which shows only the last four digits of the document, and not to share photocopies of the unmasked document with random organisations. Even the UIDAI also said that "Unlicensed private entities like hotels or film halls are not permitted to collect or keep copies of Aadhaar cards."

However, the UIDAI statement received criticism, and several activists said the UIDAI should have taken care of this risk a long time ago and informed the public then.

"It is learnt that it was issued (earlier press release) by them in the context of an attempt to misuse a photoshopped Aadhaar card. The release advised the people to not share photocopy of their Aadhaar with any organisation because it can be misused. Alternatively, a masked Aadhaar which displays only the last 4 digits of the Aadhaar number, can be used. However, in view of the possibility of the misinterpretation of the press release, the same stands withdrawn with immediate effect," the latest release said.

The Supreme Court in 2018 upheld the validity of the Aadhaar, but flagged privacy concerns and reined in a government push to make it mandatory for everything from banking to telecom services.

(Published 29 May 2022, 10:07 IST)

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