Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI )–which has been mandated by the government to develop, identify and set up the necessary infrastructure and aides for issuing Aadhaar cards – has announced to roll out face recognition feature as an additional mode of authentication, starting with telecom service providers come September 15.
The development comes with an aim of curbing the possibility of fingerprint spoofing or cloning and seeks to tighten the audit process and security around issuance and activation of mobile SIMs.
According to UIDAI, live face photo capture and verification with the photo obtained in eKYC will be essential in those cases where Aadhaar is used for issuance of mobile SIM cards.
UIDAI has proposed a two-factor authentication for use of face recognition by telecom service providers (TSPs), according to which, if an individual provides Aadhaar number, the authentication will be done using fingerprint or iris and face.
According to a UIDAI circular, TSPs have to ensure that at least 10% of their total monthly authentication transactions shall be performed using face authentication in the proposed manner. Further, any shortfall in transactions using face authentication would be charged at INR 0.20 per transaction.
The circular also stated that after successful eKYC authentication, the KYC operators will also capture the live face photo of the individual, over and above the photo captured for authentication.
It will be the responsibility of TSPs that the live photo captured shall be verified at their backend system with the photo received in eKYC before activation if the SIM. The TSP will have to share both the photos in the database for audit purpose, and the same process will be followed for the eKYC performed for all the customers for issuance of SIM cards.
If an individual is unable to authenticate fingerprint or iris, face authentication feature can be used as an additional mode to make the system more inclusive. It is expected that the combination of the live face with fingerprint in authentication will also enhance Aadhaar security as it will effectively curb fingerprint spoofing.
Apart from TSPs, for other authentication agencies, the UIDAI has said that fresh instructions will be issued on the implementation of the face authentication feature, and no fresh deadline has been given as yet. The face recognition feature is being rolled out in a phased manner as earlier various Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) were not in a position to implement face authentication from August 1, 2018.
Recently, TRAI Chairman Ram Sewak Sharma had defended his act of sharing Aadhaar number on twitter and had said that the intention was to abet others to publish or disclose their unique biometric numbers.
UIDAI has also asked people from not disclosing their Aadhaar numbers on social media and challenging others.
Amid rumors on the inclusion of UIDAI toll-free helpline numbers in the phonebook of Android users, leaks in the data and data security, and the possibility of mass surveillance, former CIA official, and whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed that Indians could soon face a civil death provided that Aadhaar is being linked to everything.