India withdraws warning on national biometric ID after online panic

New statement says Aadhaar ecosystem had adequate features to protect the identity and privacy of users



Agencies file
Agencies file

By Reuters

Published: Sun 29 May 2022, 2:03 PM

Last updated: Sun 29 May 2022, 2:17 PM

India on Sunday withdrew a warning not to share photocopies of the national biometric identity card after the announcement caused widespread panic on social media.

The Aadhaar card, which has a unique number tied to an individual's fingerprints, face and eye scan, aims to block theft and leakage in India's welfare schemes.

The press information bureau withdrew the warning two days after issuing it, saying the release was published in the context of an attempt to misuse an edited Aadhaar card, and was being withdrawn "in view of the possibility of the misinterpretation."

The new statement said the Aadhaar ecosystem had adequate features to protect the identity and privacy of users, and that users are only advised to exercise "normal prudence".

'This is in pursuant of the Press Release dated 27 May 2022 by the Bengaluru Regional Office, UIDAI.

'It is learnt that it was issued by them in the context of an attempt to misuse a photoshopped Aadhaar card. The release advised the people to not to share photocopy of their Aadhaar with any organization because it can be misused. Alternatively, a masked Aadhaar which displays only the last 4 digits of Aadhaar number, can be used.

However, in view of the possibility of the misinterpretation of the Press Release, the same stands withdrawn with immediate effect.

UIDAI issued Aadhaar card holders are only advised to exercise normal prudence in using and sharing their UIDAI Aadhaar numbers.

Aadhaar Identity Authentication ecosystem has provided adequate features for protecting and safeguarding the identity and privacy of the Aadhaar holder'

The Friday announcement had advised people not to share photocopies of their Aadhaar with any organisation because it could be misused. "Unlicensed private entities like hotels or film halls are not permitted to collect or keep copies of Aadhaar card," the initial release read.

The warning triggered alarm on social media as screengrabs of the press release and news articles went viral, with the issue among the top 10 trending topics in India on Twitter on Sunday.

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The Unique Identification Authority of India says among its frequently asked questions, "It is near impossible to impersonate you if you use Aadhar to prove your identity."

"People have been freely giving other identity documents. But did they stop using these documents for the fear that somebody would use them to impersonate? No!" it says.

India's Supreme Court in 2018 upheld the validity of the Aadhaar, but flagged privacy concerns and reined in a government push to make it mandatory for everything from banking to telecom services.


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