The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is set to make facial authentication system available alongside iris or fingerprint scan for verifying Aadhaar users from July 1, 2018. UIDAI, which is in-charge of enrollment of 12-digit Aadhaar number for all citizens had announced face authentication as additional means of authentication in January.
The announcement comes amidst growing concerns about the safety of user data hosted within UIDAI’s system like personal information and biometrics. The feature is being seen as beneficiary for old age people or those who have trouble with biometric authentication due to hardwork or worn-out fingerprints.
UIDAI has also said that face authentication will be allowed only in fusion mode, meaning it won’t be the only method of authentication. Aadhaar users will be required to use face authentication along with either fingerprint or iris or OTP to verify the details of Aadhaar holders.
“Face authentication shall be available in fusion mode along with one more authentication factor like fingerprint/iris/OTP from July 1, 2018,” UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told the Supreme Court in a presentation titled ‘1 billion +’. The 12-digit Aadhaar number is the most ambitious digital identification program ever undertaken by the government. The UIDAI claims to have issued the 12-digit Aadhaar number to 90 percent of the population.
PTI reports that Pandey reiterated the robustness of the Aadhaar encryption system as more reports come forward citing breach of user data in his presentation, . The emphasis of Aadhaar data has become extremely important in the light of recent events where an independent firm named Cambridge Analytica was found mining user data without consent.
Early this year, Tribune had reported that Aadhaar data was easily available via third party sources who exchanged messages on WhatsApp and received cash for data via Paytm. The report led to huge debate on the security aspect of Aadhaar data and UIDAI called the report misleading and said it has the best security practice in place to prevent data breach.
Considering Aadhaar being mandated for activities across banks, telecom companies, public distribution system and even for filing tax, the robustness of the system is not just necessary but it is a mandatory thing. With the new facial recognition system, the UIDAI is adding another layer of authentication even while the constitutional validity of Aadhaar is being debated.