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Why you should be cautious while sharing copies of Aadhaar

From hotels and hospitals to telecom firms, banks, schools, and employers, everyone wants a copy of your Aadhaar as identity proof. And people have freely handed out Aadhaar photocopies without realising they can be misused, just as any other photocopy of an ID document – passport, driving licence – can be misused. While the now-withdrawn advisory from the Unique Identification Authority of India’s Bengaluru office had warned about the flip side of sharing photocopies, Aadhaar has several built-in features to protect you against possible misuse.

When Is Aadhaar A Mandatory ID Proof?

The Supreme Court has barred private entities from using Aadhaar for know your-customer (KYC) authentication. So, a bank or a mobile company cannot insist on Aadhaar. It is not mandatory even for school admissions and exams. But you need it for direct transfer of benefits and government subsidies to your account. Nonetheless, ration and pension cannot be denied for want of Aadhaar. It is also mandatory for getting a Permanent Account Number or fi ling income tax returns. Those who have a PAN need to link it with their Aadhaar as a precaution against misuse. “Aadhaar card should be freely used for proving identity and doing transactions, but should not be put on public platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc. . . While using Aadhaar, you should do the same level of due diligence as you do in case of other ID cards – not more, not less,” a post on the UIDAI website said.

But Hospitals And Hotels Demand Aadhaar…

You can refuse to share your Aadhaar with an unauthorised agency, and seek action against anyone who shares your Aadhaar details. Besides, Aadhaar verification is possible without sharing photocopies. For example, authenticated details can be shared by simply scanning the QR code on your Aadhaar card. There is also the virtual ID, a temporary, revocable 16-digit random number mapped with your Aadhaar number. It can be used in lieu of an Aadhaar number whenever authentication or e-KYC services are done. You can also download e-Aadhaar, a password protected electronic copy of Aadhaar. Other options include “Masked Aadhaar” and “mAadhaar”

Is My Data Safe?

UIDAI has repeatedly assured that the information is hack-proof and not shared with anyone. The law bars agencies that have your Aadhaar data from sharing it publicly, and UIDAI has sought steps for its removal. All online transactions need verification, using an OTP sent to your phone. As an additional safety feature, you can temporarily lock your biometric data, but then you will be unable to use it. A tool available on the UIDAI website also lets you check your authentication history.

Rules In Other Countries

The US Social Security Agency has advised people against sharing their social security number without asking why it’s needed and what will happen if they refuse to share it. The UK has a similar advisory against sharing the National Insurance Number.

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