Before the Virtual ID, the 16-digit temporary number that was announced by the UIDAI was the 'biometric lock.' It acted as the additional layer of protection against a breach. It is a lesser-known feature that was not recognized by many of the citizens as a security function in one's Aadhar.
The biometric lock that already exists in Aadhar allows users to lock their biometric details in the card to avoid misuse. Like a physical lock, it will stop anyone to use their biometric details without user's consent and cannot be accessed unless he/she unlocks it.
Biometric details like fingerprint and iris are captured in the Aadhar along with personal details like name, age, address that are known as 'demographic details.' In cases like SIM card- Aadhar authentication, one needs to provide fingerprint verification.
Over 1500 crore authentications have been taken places so far, across India and 119 crore biometric identifiers have been issued. Various government, as well as non-governmental entities, require performing Aadhar authentication.
To avail the biometric lock, you need to get your number registered to your Aadhar. Once locked, your Aadhar biometric will remain locked until you choose to unlock it (this is for a temporary period) or disable the lock.
The upcoming Virtual ID is aimed to improve Aadhar's protection even further and will be rolled out in the coming months. The Virtual ID system will allow the user to create and use virtual IDs to avoid sharing their Aadhar's Unique ID Number with government or other entities. This facility will be available from March 1, 2018.
Agencies that do not migrate to the new system to offer this additional option to their users by the stipulated deadline will face financial disincentives.
This additional new feature has been introduced to strengthen security that has been questioned in recent times.
Inputs from PTI