The increasing emphasis by the government on the Aadhaar framework as the basis of a developing social security net for the citizen makes it ever more relevant and important to have. Despite Supreme Court rulings to the contrary, the Central and several state governments have made Aadhaar mandatory for citizens to avail a range of services and to get benefits of various government schemes. Even the Union Budget presented by Arun Jaitley on February 1st indicated an obvious push for Aadhaar, with recommendations for various facilities linked to the unique identification number.
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Yet, the ordinary citizen continues to have privacy and security-related concerns pertaining to the information shared with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Based on the information shared by the UIDAI, here is a quick FAQ to answer some of the most common enquiries and concerns about Aadhaar.
- What is biometric lock? How does one enable it? When and why is it useful?
A person seeking Aadhaar enrollment has to provide biometric data that consists of his fingerprint and retina scan. These biometric details are locked by default and nobody can play with the fingerprint and retina scan data. However, if you are using biometric data for Aadhaar verification, for example, if you submit your Aadhaar card as a proof of identity to get a SIM card, then you can use your fingerprint to allow the telecom company to verify your identity.
Since your biometric data is locked by default, the service provider cannot gain access to the information to match the fingerprint, unless you give explicit permission for the same.
The Aadhaar holder can allow the service provider to access biometric data by unlocking it and the process is quite simple. One should visit this page, enter his 12-digit Aadhaar card number and the security code. Soon you will get an OTP on your registered mobile phone number. Once you enter the OTP, the data will be unlocked. To lock it again, one should click on the ‘enable’ option.
It is always better to enable the lock soon after the authentication is done, to avoid a third person misusing your Aadhaar biometric data.
- How can you update demographic data?
The UIDAI also collects the demographic data of residents during the process of enrolment and stores them in a centralised database. Demographic data can be updated by self-service online mode, via post, in permanent Aadhaar enrolment centres and the Centre for e-Governance, or through private agencies.
However, officials suggest that updates be done at permanent enrolment centres as the percentage of rejection is more if one does it online himself or through private agencies. This is because the permanent enrolment centres mandate the presence of the resident and also verify biometric data while updating the information.
- How long does it take to update the information once we place a request?
Change of name, address etc is updated within 24 hours of submitting the request and updates of email and mobile number can be done in less than 4 hours. The process is free of cost in government centres while private agencies charge for updating.
- How can you update biometric data (fingerprints, iris scan and facial photograph)?
Your biometric data has to be updated in the UIDAI records in case of transplants and plastic surgery, or when the child attains the age of five, then at age 15 and later once in every 10 years. Biometric update requests can be made only with the help of an operator at permanent Aadhaar enrolment centres. One should submit support documents for proof of identity and proof of address while making the request. Here is the list of support documents, any of which could be submitted as documentary evidence:
Biometric updates takes place within 4-5 days of submission of the request.
- How can you change the privacy and information consent that you had initially given while registering for Aadhaar?
The process is the same as that of updating biometric details. The Aadhaar holder should visit any of the permanent enrolment centres, log in and untick the box meant for giving consent for sharing the information. The person has to authenticate the request with the biometric scanner.
- How does one deactivate the Aadhaar card of a dead person?
At present there is no system in place to delete/deactivate Aadhaar number of a dead person. In fact, officials from the UIDAI say it is not required to delete the number at all. The Aadhaar number is unique, hence even if a person is dead, that number will not be given to anybody else. Also, the UIDAI has so far not received any request to delete an account due to the death of a person.
- What is the system for capturing the iris of people without eyes or who lose their hands in accidents, or those who are born with any physical challenge?
While enrolling for Aadhaar, there is an option available for biometric exceptions. A person who does not have one or both the eyes or fingers needs to get his picture clicked before the camera at the enrolment centre, which would act as proof of the person’s deficiency.
If a person loses his eyesight or fingers after enrolling for Aadhaar, he/she needs to update his biometric data following the same process as above. There is no need to submit a medical certificate.
- What care should be taken while using the Aadhaar-based payment system in order to protect individual privacy and ensure that biometric data is not misused?
Aadhaar as it is, is a secured system, according to the UIDAI. There is no scope for misusing biometric data that is used for verification in Aadhaar-based payment systems. The data stored in CIDR will only reply in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ format to the confirmation request made. Nevertheless, it is always better to be cautious and never share passwords, MPIN provided by bank for mobile transactions or anything that could give access to one’s bank account.
- How private is one’s Aadhaar data? Are there possibilities of the Aadhaar number being misused if we have shared it as our identity or address proof?
According to the UIDAI, Aadhaar data is private and safe. Once a person provides his Aadhaar number and matches it with his biometric data, the only information that can be obtained is the confirmation of that person’s identity. Until and unless a person authenticates it with biometric data, no information shall be revealed.
However, there are certain issues pertaining to Aadhaar smart cards or plastic cards issued by private agencies. They download a person’s e-Aadhaar using various software available in the market, and get the card printed for which they charge anything between Rs 200 and 300. It is unlike what is printed at the Aadhaar office that comes with a QR code. The UIDAI is currently seizing the instruments from private agencies based on complaints received.
- What mechanisms are in place to stop misusing of Aadhaar number/data?
First, the UIDAI is barred from revealing personal information in the Aadhaar database – the only responses permitted are ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to requests to verify an identity. The demographic and biometric data is collected on a software provided by the UIDAI and encrypted to prevent leaks in transit.
The UIDAI also claims to be having in place a comprehensive security policy to ensure the safety and integrity of its data. Severe penalty is imposed on security violation and for disclosing identity information. There will also be penal consequences for unauthorised access to CIDR – including hacking, and penalties for tampering with data in the CIDR.
- Is there a possibility of Aadhaar data getting duplicated?
Not at all, say UIDAI officials. They negate any such possibility of duplication because of the fool proof system that mandates biometric verification for updation and payment transactions. And the database, they say is secure enough.
To prove the same, UIDAI officials give an example of a strange complaint that they received last year. A resident wanted to enrol for Aadhaar. The issue was that he had earlier mistakenly given his biometric (iris and fingerprint scan) details for his father’s demographic details. Now whenever he tries to get his Aadhaar registered, it gets rejected because the biometric details are already recorded against his father’s name. Now that his father is dead, he has raised a request to delete his father’s Aadhaar data, so that he can enrol. In such rare cases where biometric mismatch happens, deletion of data will be made.
- Whom should you complain to in case of a biometric mismatch or any other issue related to Aadhaar?
For basic help and information related to Aadhaar enrolment and updates, residents can dial the toll free number 1947 or send an email to email@example.com.
For complaints related to biometric mismatch or other major issues related to one’s Aadhaar data, residents can complain to the following regional offices. Write to them with proper documentation so that they would respond.
List of other Regional Offices where complaints can be submitted:
- For the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu:
UIDAI Regional Office, Bengaluru
Khanija Bhavan, No. 49,
3rd Floor, South Wing Race Course Road,
Bengaluru – 01
- For the states of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand:
UIDAI Regional Office, Delhi
Pragati Maidan Metro Station,
New Delhi – 110001
- For the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K:
UIDAI Regional Office, Chandigarh
3rd and 4th Floor,
Chandigarh – 160017
- For the States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Tripura:
UIDAI Regional Office, Guwahati
Block-V, First Floor,
Beltola-Basistha Road, Dispur,
Guwahati – 781 006
- For the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chattisgarh, UT of Andaman and Nicobar, Odisha:
UIDAI Regional Office, Hyderabad
5th Floor, Block – III,
My Home Hub Madhapur,
Hyderabad – 500 081
- For the state of Uttar Pradesh:
UIDAI Regional Office, Lucknow
3rd Floor, UP State Construction & Infrastructure Devpt Corp Ltd building,
TC-46/V, Vibhuti Khand, Gomti Nagar,
Lucknow – 226 010
- For the states and UTs of Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu:
UIDAI Regional Office, Mumbai
7th Floor, MTNL Exchange Building,
G D Somani Marg, Cuffe Parade,
Mumbai – 400 005
- For the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal:
UIDAI Regional Office, Ranchi
1st Floor, RIADA Central Office Building,
Namkum Industrial Area,
Near STPI Lowadih,
Ranchi – 834 010