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Aadhaar may add security layer with dummy numbers
MUMBAI: Amid the privacy and protection concerns voiced by various groups, the top team of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is exploring the possibility of introducing dummy numbers that would add an extra layer of security to every Aadhaar cardholder.
Such a framework would require an individual to share dummy or pseudo numbers — and not the real Aadhaarnumber — to government agencies, private utilities, banks and while withdrawing money from ATMs or moving funds from one bank account to another under the Aadhaar-enabled payment system. Besides the cardholder, the original Aadhaar number would be known only to UIDAI. Two senior persons in the industry said that the concept has been discussed at senior levels in UIDAI but is yet to be finalised.
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The creation of dummy numbers and the frequency at which it can be generated and used would depend on the design architecture of the system.
“It may not help if a permanent dummy number is given against every Aadhaar number. The primary job of Aadhaar is authentication — to ensure whether the right person is using the services. So, if there can be a dynamic system where an individual authenticates with the electricity company using one dummy number, with the telephone company using another dummy number, and generates new dummy numbers for monetary transactions like one time passwords (OTPs), then there is no one Aadhaar number that can be traced back to the person. And, in the absence of a single number, it is very difficult to misuse Aadhaar to track someone’s personal data,” said a person familiar with the concept.
However, there are no details available on UIDAI’s final stand on such a proposal — whether and in what form it could be brought in. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, chief executive of UIDAI, did not respond to texts, WhatsApp messages, and phone calls.
“It may be useful from the point of data security. But one has to think how convenient is the use of dummy numbers for various kinds of users,” said another person.