When the government of India first launched its cloud based document storage service, there were a lot of sceptics about the entire plan. People had typically expressed doubts over the efficacy of such a facility and the security issues involved. However, a couple of years after the Digi Locker were launched; the actual statistics are quite staggering. For example, there are more 1.46 crore registered users, over 1.96 crore documents uploaded by users and a whopping 294 crore issued documents. But, surprisingly there is still a lack of understanding about the Digi Locker facility. How to use digi locker and how to store documents in digi locker? Are digi locker documents valid and above all are they really secure?
First and foremost; digi locker is a secure document sharing system
If you have been storing files then you must be familiar with cloud based storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox. They give you the facility to store your documents in a secure place in such a way that you can access these documents from anywhere and also download these documents via your mobile application. Cloud storage has actually made data storage much simpler and cheaper. The digi locker is also a cloud based solution wherein the government allows you to store all your personal documents in the digi locker by mapping it to your Aadhar Card. But that is the smaller advantage of the digi locker. The bigger advantage is that it directly gives you access to all your key documents directly from the issuer in one single place. You can carry your passport, Aadhar Card, PAN Card, driving license, RC Book etc in your mobile phone itself. It is as simple as that!
Understanding the key parties involved in Digi Locker
The Digi Locker is a government authorized service and hence there are clearly defined rules about access to the data. Here are the 3 key parties to the digi locker..
The Issuer: is the entity that issues such authorized e-documents (electronic documents) to individuals. Such documents are issued electronically in a standard format. Such government authorized bodies include the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Registrar Office, Passport Kendra, Income Tax Department etc.
The Requester: is the entity that requests secure access to these documents stored in the repository in electronic form. Typically, government authorized bodies like Universities, Passport office, Police department, Regional Transport Office (RTO) among others are authorized to access and call for such information.
The Resident: is the individual who uses his / her documents based on the Aadhar number. The resident once authorized can also access other documents for storage in the digi locker.
What are the advantages of having a digi locker account?
There are some key advantages in a digi locker account. A few important ones have been highlighted below:
Citizens can access their documents online. These include your passport, PAN card, Aadhar Card, driving license, RC book etc. When you travel, you can use these documents as official and legitimate proof and the inspector at no point can treat this as invalid source and insist on physical documents. These digital documents are as good as the physical ones.
The big advantage of the cloud based service is that it can also be shared. For example, if you want to you can give access to the data to select people and they get the authority to access only that particular document. That level of flexibility is available in a digi locker.
From a government cost point of view, they are going to save crores in stationary and other administrative costs. Government departments which were running bulky structures can actually become lean and mean.
Since the issuer of the document is the authorized government department or government body, there is no question of doubting the integrity of the document. Even when you travel abroad, you can use this e-document facility in the digi locker of the government of India to identify yourself.
Quite often, when you provide documents for any purpose, you are required to self attest it to be valid as a proof. With the digi locker you can actually digitally sign the documents and upload them so that it is treated as equivalent to being a self attested document for all practical purposes.
There is only one question about the safety of such documents and the security standards. The government has assured that it created firewalls and ring-fences in such a way that any unauthorized use of your data are almost next to impossible. That surely makes a big case for digi lockers considering the plethora of advantages that it offers.