There is relief on the way for mobile phone users, mainly senior citizens, facing more difficulties in complying with the order of Supreme Court to link Aadhaar with mobiles as proxy authorization may soon be permitted for the purpose.
The options being considered by the Indian govt in consultation with telecom companies include use of online OTP (one time password) for mobile numbers registered with the UIDAI, alternatives such as eye scanning for persons whose fingerprints are indistinct and home visits for senior citizens.
Sources said the UIDAI is expected to issue directions outlining the options that could be made available to mobile users to comply with the SC ruling so that the process is completed with minimum unease to the public. There has been concern that public annoyance over time taking process was effecting poorly on the govt even though it had not sought Aadhaar linking to the phones.
The proxy authorization option will see a person who is nominated by a senior citizen verifying Aadhaar linking for the mobile user. As of now, it is not clear whether the facility will be restricted to senior citizens or be available for other mobile users as well. The move should solve problems like long waits at mobile service provider outlets and issues such as non-availability of devices.
Aadhaar linking could get even simpler if the mobile number is the same as provided to UIDAI at the time of registration. The UIDAI itself is not allowed under law to share details with telecom companies but can do so through an OTP verified procedure provided by service provider. The option of home visits by telecom companies where biometrics can be taken by a small scanner linked to a mobile is also being considered.
Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that the government was mindful of many concerns, and recently held a meeting with mobile operators and UIDAI to sort them out. “We are trying to smoothen things for both -telcos and customers. We are particularly concerned for older customers where biometrics can fail. We are coming out with measures to ease the problems of customers,” she said.
Mobile phone users have been receiving urgent and repeated messages from telecom operators to link their SIM with there Aadhaar card, or face disconnection in services. Customers of leading companies such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular are having to deal with SMS alerts and even tele-calls to link the numbers with there Aadhaar card.
“It does not even mention that we have time till February next year. I am already being bombarded by the operator to do it immediately , or face disconnection. Is this fair?” the Delhibased customer said. “Besides, there is major trouble for people living in rural, hilly or smaller towns. Telecom service centres are located at faraway locations and it may not always be feasible for customers to go again and again,” said another customer.
Telecom companies justified the urgency on their part to the “potential rush if everyone comes for verification towards the end of the deadline in February”. However, they did not answer questions about customer pain points.