Telecom operators face the task of linking SIM cards with Aadhaar

India telecom operators are going to face yet another challenge as the Central government wants one billion plus mobile users to link their phone SIM cards with their Aadhaar cards.

All phones, which are not connected to the controversial Aadhaar cards, will be deactivated after February 2018. This development will become a crisis for telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, BSNL, Reliance Jio, among others.

The Government is insisting on Aadhaar mobile linkage as per the orders of Supreme Court passed in February this year in Lokniti foundation case. The Supreme Court order says all SIM cards should be verified with Aadhaar within a year from the date of judgement. Phone users will face deactivation if they do not connect with their SIM with Aadhaar by February next year. Criminals, fraudsters and terrorists cannot use the issued SIMs.

According to IANS report, biometrics cannot be stored by the mobile operators nor they have access to any of the other personal data.

Biometrics collected should be encrypted by telecom company and sent to UIDAI at that moment itself and any storage of biometric by a service provider is a criminal offence punishable with up to three years of imprisonment under the Aadhaar Act 2016.

The Central government had told the Supreme Court in February that it would put in place, within a year, an effective mechanism for the verification of pre-paid mobile users who constitute 90 percent of the total subscribers.

Asking the government to put in place the mechanism for the verification of existing pre-paid mobile connection holders “as early as possible”, the court disposed of the petition by Lokniti Foundation seeking the scrutiny of the subscribers so that those having pre-paid mobile connections on fake identities are weeded out.