Indian telecoms may return to paper documents for customer authentication

In the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory to access service provided by a private entity, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has directed telecom companies in the country to submit a plan for identifying customers without using the 12-digit biometric national ID system.

The direction was delivered in a memo sent to telecom service providers (TSPs) which was seen by PTI (Press Trust of India) and reported by Firstpost.

In the communication, the UIDAI directed all TSPs “…to immediately take actions in order to comply with the judgement dated 26.09.2018. In this regard, TSPs are hereby directed to submit by 15th October 2018 an action plan/exit plan to the authority for closure of use of Aadhaar based authentication systems….”

Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which authorized private companies to demand Aadhaar as a means of identification, was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, as it significantly curtailed the national ID system.

TSPs will still be required to meet Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, but may be forced to use a legacy paper-based procedure, which Firstpost estimates takes between 24 and 36 hours.

“In order to ensure smooth discontinuation…there are certain requirements which are there under the Aadhaar regulations…so the companies are in the best position to know what exactly is needed and they can submit their plan by October 15,” says UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey. “If any additional requirements are to be done from the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) side, we will tell them after receipt of their plan.”

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