The government’s ambitious Digital India project seeks to link mobile SIM cards with the unique identity number (UID) or Aadhaar. A Cabinet note is expected to be moved to use Aadhaar numbers for electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC) verification of mobile subscribers.
The development comes close on the heels of the Cabinet approving the blueprint for the Digital India project last week. Digital India envisages all government services to be delivered electronically by 2018. It will also provide “high-speed internet as a core utility” down to the gram panchayat level and a “cradle-to-grave digital identity – unique, lifelong, online and authenticable”.
Linking of mobile phones with the UID number becomes essential since the three pillars of the project are supposed to be the unique identity that will authenticate the user, bank account that will facilitate the delivery of welfare payments and the mobile phone that will become the ubiquitous device to access services.
Earlier, a government official had told Business Standard that the mobile phone number was being considered as a medium that would act as an identifier for all government schemes. “Till the time a person disputes it, the government will use the number to disburse information about that person’s transactions with the government,” the official had said.
According to the official, different levels of authentication will be put in place for various kinds of transactions. “The unique identity is the strongest; so it will be used for the most complex of transactions.”
But the government might not have a smooth sailing on this front because the home ministry and several security agencies including the Intelligence Bureau have raised concerns about the proposal at a recent meeting.
According to another government official in the know, the agencies are concerned about the gaps in UID’s enrolment process, which could lead to unauthorised people getting access to mobile services through the Aadhaar number. They fear these could later be misused by terrorists.