SIM card - Aadhaar to be linked

A bulk of India's 1.1 billion telecom subscribers will soon have to go through a fresh verification exercise based on their Aadhaar identification, following an order of the Supreme Court last month. The industry estimates the process could cost at least Rs.1,000 crores.

The notice comes within a month of the top court order making it mandatory for telecom subscribers to be re-verified via Aadhaar cards in a push to root out those who have used fraudulent means to get connections. SC passed the order on February 6, providing a deadline of exactly one year -February 6, 2018 -for compliance.

The new diktat will mean that only those with Aadhaar cards can have subscriptions. Privacy advocates have expressed their concerns about the widening practice of Aadhaar being made compulsory for purposes of establishing identity and access to entitlements.

For Aadhaar based re-verification, the telecom operator will have to send an SMS to a subscriber with a verification code after establishing that the SIM card is physically available with the person.

Experts said the move would be a big drag on the telcos, especially the older ones as most of their subscribers were signed up before the government allowed the Aadhaar-linked e-KYC verification process last August. Most subscriber additions after August won't need to be reverified. New entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm will be the least hit as most of its 100 million users have come on board via the Aadhaar-based eKYC since it started services in early September.

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