Home » Latest News » UIDAI had put an interim stay on Bharti Airtel from conducting e – KYC

UIDAI had put an interim stay on Bharti Airtel from conducting e – KYC

As a result of allegations on Bharti Airtel for using the e – KYC (Know Your Customer) based SIM verification process in order to open payments bank accounts of its subscribers without their approbation, UIDAI decided to put a hold on Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank from conducting Aadhaar based SIM verification of mobile customers using e – KYC process as well as e – KYC payments bank clients.

On 16th December 2017, UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) has taken this action of temporarily barring the service provider from conducting the particular process.

On the matter a source said

Lapses are serious in nature. Prima facie, it is a criminal breach of trust and contract, and there are violations of provisions of the Aadhaar Act.

Earlier last month i.e. November, UIDAI passed an authoritative instruction for an investigation against Bharti Airtel for the ostensible allegation against the violation of the Aadhaar Act and in case of the allegations being proven; the company will have to face a financial penalty for opening Airtel payments bank accounts of customers without their being known of the action at the time of carrying out Aadhaar verification of their mobile numbers.

More than 23 lakh customers have reportedly received as many as Rs 47 crore in their Airtel bank accounts, which they did not know had been opened.

A report in the matter says that some customers had landed their LPG i.e. cooking gas subsidy amount into their Airtel Payments Bank account, while they had linked the subsidies to their savings bank accounts. When this irregularity came in front, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that

the authority has received complaints of wrongdoing against certain telecom companies at the time of Aadhaar verification process.
However, they couldn’t identify any particular telecom provider for the same.

In the meanwhile, UIDAI has refrained Airtel from conducting any e – KYC i.e. electronic verification or link mobile SIMs of its customers with their 12 digit biometric national ID Aadhaar or paperless e – KYC (or Electronic Know Your Customer) process of UIDAI.

Also, the airtel payment banks will not be able to open a new account with Aadhaar e – KYC. However, alternative methods can be used in order to do the same.

This particular action of Airtel or Airtel bank accounts is in direct contradictions with Aadhaar Act 2016 which mandates obtaining consent from the subscriber explicitly. And breach of the privacy of this section will result of penalty of Rs 1 lakh per day and termination of authentication user agreements.

According to sources, the first notice was issued to Airtel was on September 18, to which they have stated that

we have amended our process and the opening of a bank account is completely de – linked from the process of re – verification of mobile connection.

However, this response was not convincing enough for the UIDAI. Hence they have issued another notice to the service provider on November 24 as the authority responsible for regulating Aadhaar, kept receiving similar complaints from customers.

What’s more infuriated the action was when UIDAI checked Airtel mobile app, it found that when the app is opened, along with a welcome message, a pre – ticked consent box in no time flashed on the screen which reads “upgrade or create my Airtel Payment Bank wallet using existing Airtel mobile KYC”. Which proves the disregard and non – adherence to Aadhaar Act and Regulation.

Airtel spokesperson clarified the news by saying that

We can confirm that we have received interim order from the UIDAI regarding temporary suspension of Aadhaar linked e – KYC services till their satisfaction on certain processes relating to Airtel payment banks on boarding of customers. We are engaging with the authority and are hopeful of an early resolution. We are also undertaking to complete the said actions on priority and have commenced thorough checks of our process flows. Being compliant to all guidelines is paramount to us. In the interim, any inconvenience to our customers is regretted

Privacy and security of Aadhaar card is extremely sensitive as government’s flagship program Aadhaar has been questioned for violating breach of privacy of the citizens https://rupeenomics.com/verdict-aadhaar-right-privacy-case/ . Hence, Government is looking into its various aspects.

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