The Indian government has withdrawn UIDAI advice which warned the general public not to share a copy of Aadhaar with any organisation.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said it was withdrawing the press release because it could lead to misinterpretation.
“The statement advised people not to share a copy of their Aadhaar with any organization because it could be misused. Instead, a disguised Aadhaar that displays only the last 4 digits of the Aadhaar number can be used.
“However, given the potential for misinterpretation of the press release, the same positions were withdrawn with immediate effect,” the statement said.
In the withdrawal statement, MeitY said that UIDAI-issued Aadha card holders are only advised to exercise ordinary wisdom in using and sharing their Aadhaar numbers.
The statement added, “The Aadhaar identity authentication ecosystem has provided appropriate features to safeguard and protect the identity and privacy of the Aadhaar owner.”
The Aadhaar Card, which contains a unique number linked to an individual’s fingerprints and face and eye scans, aims to prevent theft and leakage in social welfare schemes in India. But critics fear it could create a surveillance state.
A press release issued by the Bengaluru regional office of India’s Unique Identification Authority (UIDAI) on Friday asked the general public not to share a copy of Aadhaar with any organization because it could be misused. Alternatively, a masked Aadhaar that displays only the last 4 digits of the biometric ID can be used for this, he added. “Unauthorized private entities such as hotels or movie theaters are not allowed to collect or keep copies of the Aadhaar Card,” the initial statement read.
The warning raised alarm on social media as screenshots of the press release and news articles went viral, and the issue was among India’s top 10 trending topics on Twitter on Sunday.
India’s Supreme Court in 2018 upheld the validity of Aadhaar, but cited privacy concerns and government rein in making it mandatory for everything from banking to telecom services.