To address privacy concerns, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Wednesday introduced a new concept called the 'Virtual ID' and a limited know-your customer (KYC) facility for Aadhaar number holders.

The Virtual ID can be used by an Aadhaar holder in lieu of his/her Aadhaar number to avoid sharing the unique identity number at the time of authentication for mobile companies or any service.

The 'limited KYC' will only provide need-based or limited details of a user to an authorised agency that is providing a particular service, say, a telco. This will eliminate the need for agencies to store Aadhaar numbers.

The Virtual ID will be a temporary and revocable 16-digit random number mapped to a person's Aadhaar number and the Aadhaar-issuing body will start accepting it from March 1, 2018. It will not be possible to derive the Aadhaar number from the Virtual ID.

The Virtual ID, together with biometrics of the user, would give any authorised agency like a mobile company, limited details like name, address and photograph, which are enough for any verification.

Users can go to the UIDAI website to generate their Virtual IDs which will be valid for a certain period of time, or till the user decides to change it. A user can generate as many Virtual IDs as he or she wishes. The older ID gets automatically cancelled once a fresh one is generated.

Aadhaar number holders can provide this Virtual ID to service agencies along with the fingerprint at the time of authentication. Since the system-generated Virtual ID will be mapped to an individual's Aadhaar number itself at the back end, it will do away with the need for the user to share the Aadhaar number for authentication.

The UIDAI is instructing all agencies using its authentication and eKYC services to ensure Aadhaar holders are able to provide the 16-digit Virtual ID instead of the Aadhaar number within their application.

UIDAI will release the necessary APIs (Application Programming Interface) by March 1 and all agencies have been directed to make necessary changes for the use of the virtual ID, UID token and limited KYC to start using the new system by June 1. Those who fail to do so may face discontinuation of authentication services and imposition of financial disincentives, added the UIDAI circular.

According to UIDAI, agencies that undertake authentication would not be allowed to generate the Virtual ID on behalf of the Aadhaar holder.

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