One of the primary objectives of the Digital India campaign is to discourage the use of paper in interactions between government bodies and the general public. Government agencies have been working on revamping their websites and a number of new mobile apps have been released to disseminate information to the public right on their smartphones. Apps like RTI and ePathshaa not just makes life easier for users but also cuts down the use of paperwork.

One of the apps called DigiLocker released by MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information technology) is helping users access and save documents of importance such as certificates and id proofs securely on their smartphone.

When released in June 2015, it was relevant mostly to class 12 students who could download and save their marksheets and certificates from CBSE website directly on their smartphone. Now the ministry of road transport and highways has come on-board and will be issuing driver’s licence and registration papers to users on it. It is a free app and is available on Google Play Store.

How it works

Technically it works like any other cloud storage service. What sets it apart is the direct link with the government agencies and the multiple security protocols it uses to keep the document secure.

Before one can create an account it asks for the user’s mobile number for authentication and then send a OTP (one-time password) on the user’s mobile number. Once the authentication process is completed, user is required to create a unique username and password to login to the account. Every time the app is closed, the user is logged out of the account automatically. This can be irritating, but is done to ensure the documents are safe even if the user has misplaced or lost the phone.

People don’t start using it as cloud storage app, the app bars users from files bigger than 10MB. DigiLocker uses 256-bit SSL encryption to provide an extra layer of security and protect against theft of login details and password. It is widely used in payment and banking apps.

DigiLocker works in two ways. First is where user can download documents released by government agencies. So if a user has applied for driver’s licence, he will get a notification on the DigiLocker app to download the issued papers. However, this notification is send only to those users who have synced their Aadhaar card details while creating their DigiLocker account. In case the user doesn’t have an Aadhaar card, they will have to go the ministry of road transport and highways website, look for the link to the specific documents and download them.

The other way to use it by taking scans of a physical copy of a certificate, Pan card, Aaadhar card and driver’s licence and upload it on the Digilocker app with their e-signature. An e-signature is similar to self attesting one’s documents.

The benefits for users

DigiLocker saves these documents in widely used PNG, JPEG and PDF file formats which makes sharing a copy of the files easier. The app has a very basic layout and needs a facelift. However, it shows documents saved by user separately from those issued by a government. This makes it easier for users to look up their documents. Users who already have a driver’s licence can save their documents on the DigiLocker account.

The advantage of using DigiLocker is now that a user doesn’t have to carry the original driver’s license or registration papers anymore. Instead they can show a copy of it on their smartphones the next time they are stopped at checkpoints by a traffic personnel. Users can also share the documents with other agencies of government where the documents are required for verification of address or ID proof.