Unique Identification Data Authority of India, UIDAI has temporarily suspended Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank from conducting the e-KYC process of mobile customers and e-KYC of payments ban the clients on the basis of Aadhaar, PTI reported. The cancellation of license comes in the wake of allegations of Bahrti Airtel using the SIM verification of its customers on the basis of Aadhaar and then initiating the process to open bank accounts without the consent of the customers. In addition to this, UIDAI also objected to the allegations about such accounts being linked to the receive LPG subsidies. With all these, UIDAI gave an interim order of suspending the e-KYC license key of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Airtel Payment Bank Ltd with immediate effect, quoted by PTI.
Airtel Spokesperson speaking to PTI said, “We can confirm that we have received the 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 onboarding 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 through cheeks of our process flows.” The spokesperson added.
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With less than 23 lakh customers have reportedly received about Rs. 47 Crore in their Airtel bank accounts, about which they were not aware of. The Government LPG subsidy was also getting transferred to these accounts, without their knowledge or consent, UIDAI observed that as per the agreement, Airtel and Airtel Bank are about to bound and under a legal obligatin to ensure the security and privacy of an identity information of the residents, following the suspension of the e-KYC license key, UIDAI has instructed PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an audit of Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments.
What are the consequences?
UIDAI might consider the revocation of suspension or would decide further necessary course of action. The national authority has observed that Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank have been found to have violated many sections of Aadhaar Acti, 2016. The act establishes that ‘obtaining explicit consent of the individual’ is mandatory before using the Aadhaar for services. Violations are liable to be punished with a fine of rupees one lakh per day and termination of authentication user agreements with the UIDAI.
The sources have informed that the interim order has showcased some of the complaints as examples of the violation and went further to state that Airtel and Airtel Bank had made ‘false statements’ to ‘deceive and mislead’ UIDAI.
UIDAI had discovered while reviewing the Airtel app that it has opened with a welcome message pre-ticked consent box which is flashed for a short duration with a mention of ‘Upgrade or create my Airtel Payment Bank wallet using existing Airtel mobile KYC.”
This was found to be a blatant violation of Aadhaar Act and Regulations.