In response to unstarred question 2502 in the Rajya Sabha, the government has referred to the UIDAI circular dated 10th January 2018 to be found on the UIDAI website.

The question by Sh. Kiranmay Nanda asked for specific details regarding the Virtual ID announcement by the UIDAI.

Will the Minister of ELECTRONICS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY be pleased to state:

  1. whether it is a fact that Unique Identification Authority of India is going to introduce use of virtual ID as a fresh move to maintain privacy of data of Aadhaar holders;
  2. if so, the details of new ID system to be implemented;
  3. the list of departments and usages where virtual ID shall be acceptable; and
  4. the list of departments, where only Aadhaar Card shall be required?

To this, the response by Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Sh. K J Alphons provided the UIDAI description of Virtual ID and the original circular making the announcement of Virtual ID after repeated embarrassments of Aadhaar data breaches:

(a) to (d): Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) vide its circular dated 10th January, 2018 has decided to implement Virtual ID. Virtual ID is a temporary, revocable 16- digit random number mapped with the Aadhaar number, which can be used at the time of authentication. The details are given in UIDAI circular dated 10th January, 2018 which is available on UIDAI website.

The reply provided does not actually answer the detailed questions asked. Neither the reply nor the circular document it refers to include details of the new ID system to be implemented or names departments and usages where the Virtual ID can be used and where Aadhaar will still be required. Additionally, the document mentions the availability of a new API for using the Virtual IDs that should have been released and been in use with authenticating agencies from the 1st of March but has not been released so far.

Medianama’s take

This reply does not answer the questions asked and the lack of further information on the implementation of Virtual ID after the date specified in the original announcement referred in the reply raise questions about the official status of the implementation.

The document cited by Sh. Alphons describes the Virtual ID but does not specify where it will be used. It states a date for the rollout of the API and implementation, which has already passed without the implementation having happened. It is unclear what the document answers from among the questions asked.

If the timeline in the original UIDAI circular were correct, the Virtual ID would be in implementation currently. However, not only is it not implemented 16 days after the stated date, there appears to be no clarity on how and where it would be implemented either.