In a government order on Friday, telecom companies were asked to stop using Aadhaar for electronic verification of existing mobile phone customers and for issuing new connections, to comply with a recent Supreme Court order. In a landmark verdict last month, the apex court had restricted the use of Aadhaar by private entities in the absence of a legal provision.
Detailed instructions to telecom companies were issued by the Department of Telecom (DoT) on Friday, on halting the use of Aadhaar-based electronic-know your customer (e-KYC) and report compliance by November 5.
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In a three-page circular, the DoT said Aadhaar e-KYC cannot be used for verifying existing customers as well as giving new SIM connections.
It also permitted the use of physical Aadhaar card for giving new connections, provided the customer voluntarily offers it.
The Telecom Department in a circular said, “In compliance to the judgement of the Supreme Court, all licencees are to discontinue the use of Aadhaar eKYC service of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) both for verification as well as for issuing new mobile connections.”
All telecom service providers shall ensure its implementation across the country in a time-bound manner and compliance in this regard is required to be submitted by November 5, 2018, it said.
The DoT noted the industry had suggested an alternate digital process for KYC of mobile subscribers which entails Customer Acquisition Forms to be embedded with live photo of the subscriber and scanned images of proof of identity and proof of address, thereby digitising the end-to-end process for onboarding of new mobile subscribers and making it paperless.
The DoT has accordingly asked all telecom service providers to ensure readiness of their systems and offer the proof of concept of the proposed digital process by November 5 for approval.
The operators can use physical Aadhaar card in offline mode for giving new connections if the customer gives it voluntarily, the Telecom Department said.
"The licencees may accept the copy of physical Aadhaar or eAadhaar letter having masked or unmasked Aadhaar number (as downloaded from UIDAI website) as proof of identity or proof of address document, if offered voluntarily by the subscriber, as per the procedure prescribed for issuance of new mobile connections...," it said.
The DoT said its previous instructions on permitting use of eAadhaar as proof of identity or address subject to online verification from UIDAI also "stands withdrawn".
In addition, the DoT said "the licencee shall also delete the column of writing Aadhaar number (which was optional entry) on customer acquisition forms for issuing the new mobile connections."
Meanwhile, the chairman of Telecom regulator Trai, RS Sharma, on Friday questioned mobile applications seeking permission to access data that are not required for their functioning and asked private firms to ensure that they do not misuse the data of customers.
"There is an application which is actually a lighting application, a torch application. When you download the application, it asks for your contacts, camera and all of your peripherals. Why? For making your mobile phone a torch, why should it require access (to) all this?" Sharma said at the India Mobile Congress in Delhi, while expressing concern over data misuse by online players.
He said people accept terms and conditions of online platforms without reading, which puts their privacy at risk.