India's Aadhaar authority — the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) — has temporarily suspended Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank from using the Aadhaar-based identification to verify mobile customers using the e-KYC (Know Your Customer) process.
The action comes after allegations against telecom major Airtel of using Aadhaar details to open accounts on Airtel Payments Bank without the s consent of its users, news agency PTI reported.
The telecom major owned by billionaire Sunil Mittal confirmed the order by UIDAI and said in a statement that the company was "engaging with the authority and are hopeful of an early resolution. We are also undertaking to complete the said actions on priority and have commenced thorough checks of our process flows."
With the suspension, the firm will not be to carry out electronic verification by linking mobile numbers to Aadhaar. Moreover, users will also not be able to open Airtel Payments Bank accounts using Aadhaar-based e-KYC.
UIDAI has observed that as per agreement with the authority, Airtel and Airtel Bank are duty-bound and under obligation to ensure security and privacy of users' identity information.
UIDAI had in September issued a notice to Bharti Airtel, but its reply was found unsatisfactory. The interim order said Airtel made "false statements" to "deceive and mislead" UIDAI, sources told PTI.
The actions of Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank were found to be in violation of different sections of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, which mandates obtaining explicit consent of an individual, reported BloombergQuint.
Security and privacy of Aadhaar data has been one of the most contentious issue in India over the past year. Currently, the Supreme Court is looking into its various aspects of Aadhaar.