The UIDAI and Department of Telecom have issued a joint statement denying a report that 50 crore mobile connections issued via Aadhaar e-KYC may be disconnected. The statement refers to a Times Of India report published yesterday, which said 50 crore SIM cards would be suspended if fresh ID verification for them is not carried out, in compliance with the SC’s judgment on the Aadhaar matter. The statement says that the report is trying to “create unnecessary panic” among mobile users. 

According to the two government bodies, the SC judgment “did not order suspension of mobile connections issued via Aadhaar eKYC, and neither has the court ordered deletion all the eKYC data of telecom customers after 6 months.” The court has only asked that the UIDAI not store authentication logs for over 6 months. The statement categorically states that telecom companies do not need to delete Aadhaar e-KYC authentication logs, and that, that is “on the UIDAI.”

The restriction is on UIDAI and not on the telecom companies. Therefore, there is no need for telecom companies to delete authentication logs.

DoT and UIDAI say users can delink Aadhaar from mobile number

The statement clarifies that customers can request their telecom service providers to delink their Aadhaar from the mobile connections, and get their Aadhaar e-KYC replaced with a fresh KYC.

The SC judgment has declared Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act illegal, the section allowed private parties to collect and use Aadhaar data. The section has been struck down, but also has been interpreted by stakeholders differently.

Currently, telcos and payment companies continue to ask for Aadhaar for provision of services or for faster provision of services, for instance:

And this.

New ‘digital’ process for verification

The DoT and UIDAI will come up with a new mobile app for issuing new SIM cards, which will be “fully compliant” with the SC judgment. A ‘live’ photograph of the person, geotagged with his longitude and latitude, as well as a timestamp, will be captured. Additionally, a photograph of the person’s Aadhaar, Voter ID and so on will be captured. The TSP agent will be identified via OTP and a SIM card will be issued.

After the SC judgment, UIDAI asked telecom companies to submit an exit plan from Aadhaar e-KYC by October 15. ET reported that Vodafone Idea, Airtel and Jio have submitted their exit plans, and also complained that the sudden change will stretch their operations thin. The telcos said although they will comply with the order, “all investments made in Aadhaar eKYC so far will be wasted.”