While the rollout of Virtual ID based Aadhaar authentication comes closer to roll out, the plans for face recognition feature have hit a roadblock and might be delayed till August 1, revealed UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India). 

Talking to PTI, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that some more time will be needed to prepare for the rollout of the new facility which was earlier planned to be introduced from July 1.

Inc42 had earlier reported in January when UIDAI had introduced face recognition feature as an additional choice for biometric verification for Aadhaar, in addition to iris and fingerprint scans.

“We are working on that. From August 1, we should be able to do it. All this is technology, and while we target a date this is not something as if we are buying things off-the-shelf. These things are being developed…,” Pandey said.

The UIDAI wants to be fully prepared, he said adding, “We are trying our best to have this released from August 1″.

Earlier, UIDAI had emphasised that face authentication would be allowed “only in fusion mode” meaning along with either fingerprint or iris or OTP (one time password) to verify the details of Aadhaar holder.

It is to be noted that face recognition is aimed at helping people who face difficulty in biometric authentication due to old age, hardwork or worn-out fingerprints, to authenticate their identity for accessing services, benefits and subsidies.

“From August 1, it will be available to user agencies. We will then watch how it performs in the field…If more tuning or adjustment is required, we will do that and in the next few months this whole process should get stabilised. We will then make it applicable across all our users,” Pandey added.

However, Pandey also clarified that there is no set deadline for all authentication agencies to have the new facility in place.

Further, he also emphasised that the extra time taken to make the new system operational would not cause any inconvenience to Aadhaar holders as the exception handling mechanism is already in place.

“Even if it takes a few more months, it is not as if people are being denied benefits in its absence. As long as we have an exception handling mechanism, it will ensure that anyone with fingerprint authentication difficulty or failure will be provided alternate means and given the benefits,” he said.

In an earlier report, UIDAI had stated that it will be working with biometric device providers in order to integrate face modality with the certified registered devices. It may also provide standalone registered devices, depending on the requirement.

Further, it was also expected to lineup a software development kits that will have the ability to capture face image, create digitally encrypted authentication inputs which could be used later for verification.

At present, 1.2 Bn residents have been enrolled for Aadhaar, which has been used for 19.6 Bn authentications.

While UIDAI battles in the Supreme Court to defend the Aadhaar system, claiming there are 13ft high and 5ft thick walls protecting Aadhaar data, which continues to witness major leaks, the additions to security features like face recognition virtual ID might be the attempt to address rising privacy concerns in the country.

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