India launched Aadhaar, its unique identification system, in 2009. Over the course of the next 8 years, it went on to become the largest identification project in the world. However, these 8 years haven’t been easy. Currently, in its 9th year, Aadhaar continues to face pertinent questions around the handling of critical personal data.
Yesterday in a Twitter chat, CEO of UIDAI, Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, answered a series of questions. In response to BGR India’s question on the implementation of a chip-enabled card for Aadhaar, he had the following response.
— Aadhaar (@UIDAI) January 28, 2018
He said, “Aadhaar is a digital identity based on your biometric and also your mobile number which is linked to Aadhaar. It is not based on any smart card or chip. Because it is based on biometrics, therefore there is really no need for any chip or any smart card in Aadhaar.”
Chip-enabled national identification cards are used by multiple countries. The reason for doing so is to add an additional layer of security to prevent theft of personal biometric data. This is similar to the new chip-enabled debit and credit cards issued by banks as made mandatory as per a circular issued in 2015 by the Reserve Bank of India.
In comparison, what makes Aadhaar unique is the intended ease of implementation in the form of a 12-digit unique number that maps a citizen’s photograph, ten fingerprints, and two iris scans to a unique identification number.
A citizen can go ahead and access a wide range of services, and quick and convenient authentication by verifying his or her fingerprint with the stored information on the UIDAI servers. Recently, telecom companies especially Reliance Jio expedited its registration process by implementing Aadhaar based authentication.
After recent reports of breach into Aadhaar data, UIDAI has had to clarify numerous times that all user biometric and personal data is safe. This response by the CEO of UIDAI goes on to emphasize the confidence UIDAI places on the Aadhaar card and its implementation without the need of a smart card or chip.