The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has approved plans to enable customers to re-verify their SIM cards with its Aadhaar system – a unique twelve-digit identity number linked to citizen’s biometric and demographic data – without having to go in-person to one of their provider’s retail outlets, as part of efforts to ensure that subscribers can complete the process before the 8 February 2018 deadline. The Economic Times writes that from 1 December users will be able to complete the re-verification process using a one-time password (OTP), interactive voice response system (IVRS) or through an application from their service provider. Subscribers that are not physically able to travel to complete the verification in store with a fingerprint scan – due to a disability or illness, for example – are entitled to a home visit from their provider, with the verification completed via an iris scan.
In March this year the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) ordered the re-verification of the nation’s cellular subscribers by linking customer accounts to the Aadhaar system following a Supreme Court order to that effect the previous month. Operators were given a year to complete the process, but with the deadline rapidly approaching, the matter remains controversial. The Aadhaar system was initially made voluntary to assuage privacy concerns, but New Delhi has increasingly shifted towards requiring citizens to confirm their identity via Aadhaar for government or financial services. Indeed, earlier this month the head of the DoT said that mobile operators would not be required to deactivate unregistered accounts until the legality of the decision has been confirmed by the apex court.