After PAN cards and bank accounts, Aadhaar linking is likely to become mandatory for mobile phones, said media reports.
According to a report in IANS, the government is planning to mandate the linking of Aadhaar with SIM cards. All phones, not linked with Aadhaar, will be deactivated after February 2018.
This is in line with Supreme Court’s order in February, 2017, in the Lokniti Foundation case, that all SIM cards have to be linked with Aadhaar within a year from the date of judgement. This was seen as a step towards spreading the net for terrorists, fraudsters, criminals who use multiple SIMs to get away with crime.
The Central government had then assured the apex court that a framework for identifying pre-paid mobile users will be introduced within a year.
Earlier this year, the government also mandated the linking of Aadhaar with PAN cards for filing of income tax returns. This was also done to curb tax evasion.
Informed sources told IANS that the Aadhaar biometrics cannot be stored by mobile operators and so they will not be able to access the consumer’s data.
The biometrics should be encrypted by the telecom operators and sent to UIDAI, the nodal agency handling Aadhaar. Storage of biometric by a service provider will be deemed as a punishable offence with up to three years of imprisonment under the Aadhaar Act 2016.
Meanwhile, bank accounts must be updated with Aadhaar details by December 31, following which accounts not linked to Aadhaar will be considered inoperable.
While the Supreme Court’s right to privacy judgement has shaken the foundation of the Aadhaar Act itself, all previous orders related to the 12-digit unique identity code and schemes related to it, will continue, till further judgement, said UIDAI.
Aadhaar has been used by the government for availing various social welfare schemes, as well as for curbing criminal activities like identity duplication, black money hoarding, tax evasion, terrorism, etc.