As the Supreme Court of India continues its hearings on the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is in works to introduce face authentication feature available along with iris or fingerprint scan to verify Aadhaar users from July 1, 2018.
In January, UIDAI had announced that it will introduce face authentication feature to aid biometric authentication of those who have troubles due to old age, hard work or worn-out fingerprints. This was to be allowed only in fusion mode i.e. face authentication would be permitted along with either fingerprint or iris or OTP for verification of Aadhaar details.
In the ongoing case, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey was asked to give a technical powerpoint presentation to defend Aadhaar where he said, “Face authentication shall be available in fusion mode along with one more authentication factor like fingerprint/iris/OTP from July 1, 2018.”
He also emphasised that 17 Bn Aadhaar authentications and 4.6 Bn eKYC transactions have already been performed so far.
The UIDAI chief also claimed that personal data acquired during enrolment, including biometrics, were encrypted and couldn’t be hacked. He said, “It would take more than the age of the universe to break one encryption.”
However, a harsh rebuttal surfaced when a report claimed that “a data leak on a system run by a state-owned utility company Indane allowed anyone to download private information on all Aadhaar holders, exposing their names, their unique 12-digit identity numbers, and information about services they are connected to, such as their bank details and other private information.”
The breach affected every single Aadhaar user.
However, Pandey claimed that no third party can either store or save a person’s data during authentication and neither can anyone access these authentication details. He also said that it was “difficult to misuse an Aadhaar card because it has a hidden barcode that carries details of the original holder.”
The presentation will be continued on Tuesday when the court begins its hearing again. Following the presentation, the SC bench has asked the petitioners opposing the Aadhaar scheme to prepare a questionnaire after the UIDAI CEO’s presentation.
As the Supreme Court continues its proceedings, the explanations and the latest introduction of face authentication by UIDAI addresses the security threat posed by leak of Aadhaar details.