Trai recommends verification of existing Sim cards using Aadhaar-based e-KYC service

To address security risk of Sim cards obtained with forged documents, Trai wants to verify Sim card holders through the Aadhaar linked e-KYC service.

The Aadhaar-linked e-KYC (Know Your Customer) service has already been rolled out to allow telecom service providers to verify new Sim card applications. The information is pulled immediately and directly from the source Aadhaar database, based on the biometrics of the customer. This approach prevents manual entry of data or the forging of documents to obtain a Sim card.

The Department of Telecom (Dot) allowed for the use of e-KYC for authenticating new customers with the use of the Aadhaar linked e-KYC service from 6 January 2016. However, existing customers who have already obtained Sim cards did not come under the ambit of the new regulations. Outstation customers were also not allowed to authenticate their documents using the Aadhaar-based e-KYC process.

However, Trai has information of Sim cards that have been obtained from forged documents already being used in the wild. These cards have been obtained in the names and identities of people who may not even be aware that their information has been used to obtain Sim cards. Trai has information from many state police crime branches of hundreds of Sim cards obtained and being used with forged paperwork.

The Sim cards already being used are a big security concern. Further, not allowing the e-KYC process for outstation customers causes them avoidable inconveniences. To overcome these challenges, Trai has submitted a recommendation (pdf) to Dot with two significant pointers. Outstation customers should now be allowed to use the Aadhaar linked e-KYC service for obtaining new Sim cards. Existing Sim card users will have to have their details authenticated again.

Trai plans to work with telecom service providers to come up with a framework for authenticating the existing customers. The verification is to happen in a phased manner, and within a planned timeframe. The process is however, optional for the telecom service provider as well as the customer. Trai wants the telecom service providers to incentivise the verification process by providing some talk time or other benefit to consumers who choose to go through the Aadhaar linked e-KYC process for the existing Sim cards.

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