The UIDAI has unveiled the beta version of the much-awaited 'Virtual ID', and promised that service providers will "soon" start accepting the same in lieu of Aadhaar number.
In the beta form, users can generate their Virtual ID and use it to update address in Aadhaar online for the time being, according to UIDAI which announced the Virtual ID concept earlier this year to address privacy concerns.
Put simply, the new feature will allow Aadhaar holders to quote their Virtual ID (VID) number without actually disclosing the 12-digit Aadhaar number for authentication or verification purposes.
"...Soon, service providers will start accepting VID in place of Aadhaar number. For now, you can use this for online address update in your Aadhaar," the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said in a recent tweet.
This is what UIDAI tweeted:
UIDAI launches Virtual ID.— Aadhaar (@UIDAI) 2 April 2018
Generate your VID from: https://t.co/8Opr7VubjM
Soon, service providers will start accepting VID in place of Aadhaar number. For now, you can use this for online address update in your Aadhaar from: https://t.co/JwJO4mFXwo pic.twitter.com/CKeWozKQ1e
The tweet urges the users to generate their VIDs and gives a link of Aadhaar website for the same.
In January this year, UIDAI announced plans to introduce Virtual ID' feature which an Aadhaar-card holder can generate from its website and give for various purposes, including SIM verification, instead of sharing the actual 12-digit biometric ID.
The VID, which is a random 16-digit number mapped to a person's Aadhaar number, together with biometrics of the user would give any authorised agency like a mobile company, limited details such as name, address and photograph, which are enough for any verification. The VID effectively gives the users, the option of not sharing Aadhaar number at the time of authentication.
UIDAI had stated that it will be compulsory for all agencies that undertake authentication to accept the Virtual ID from their users from June 1, 2018.
The launch of VID comes at a time when the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the Aadhaar Act and the use of biometric identifier in various government and non-government services.
UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey last month made a presentation in the apex court to defend the government's ambitious Aadhaar scheme.