The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) came under scrutiny after its advisory regarding sharing of Aadhaar photocopies with any organisation over the fear of it being misused triggered panic among one-billion-plus cardholders. The advisory now stands withdrawn.
In the May 27 press note, the UIDAI asked people, "Do not share photocopy of your Aadhaar with any organisations because it can be misused. Alternatively, please use a masked Aadhaar which displays only the last 4 digits of your Aadhaar number."
The threat of misuse immediately turned into a worry for the masses. Some users took to Twitter, criticising the government for not exercising caution right from the beginning.
The advisory had also advised that "Only those organizations that have obtained a User License from the UIDAI can use Aadhaar for establishing the identity of a person. Unlicensed private entities like hotels or film halls are not permitted to collect or keep copies of Aadhaar card. It is an offence under the Aadhaar Act 2016. If a private entity demands to see your Aadhaar card, or seeks a photocopy of your Aadhaar card, please verify that they have valid User License from the UIDAI."
UIDAI had also asked not to download e-Aadhaar using public cafe. In the event of doing so, it was advised to ensure all copies are deleted permanently from public computers.
Seeing the panic triggered by the advisory, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued a clarification while withdrawing its previous circular. The ministry said that "..in view of the possibility of the misinterpretation of the Press Release, the same stands withdrawn with immediate effect."
Instead, "UIDAI issued Aadhaar card holders are only advised to exercise normal prudence in using and sharing their UIDAI Aadhaar numbers", the latest release said, adding that the earlier press release was in the context of an attempt to misuse a photoshopped Aadhaar card.
Assuring those concerned about Aadhaar misuse, the ministry said that the Aadhaar Identity Authentication ecosystem has provided adequate features for protecting and safeguarding the identity and privacy of the Aadhaar holder.
How to download masked Aadhaar?
A masked Aadhaar will only reveal the last four digits instead of the full 12 digits. Masked Aadhaar can be downloaded from UIDAI website by following these steps:
Step 1: Go to https://myaadhaar.uidai.gov.in/
Step 2: Enter your Aadhaar card number
Step 3: Select the option 'Do you want a masked Aadhaar'
Step 4: Select download and get a copy of the Aadhaar card with only the last four digits of the Aadhaar number.