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Aadhaar users will now need to submit facial verification as well for obtaining a SIM card from the 15th of September. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) announced the new security feature in addition to the existing fingerprint and iris (eyes) verification.

UIDAI’s two-factor authentication proposal for Aadhaar users purports that fingerprint or iris and face verification has to be used for authentication of identity. If a user submits a Virtual ID, the authentication can be based on fingerprint or iris.

Aadhaar at its Lowest in Authentication in June

Face authentication can be availed in the case that the individual is not able to submit authentication for fingerprint or iris. UIDAI has been sending out official circulars since a week now, based on which, the measure will be applied. The purpose of the measure is to add another layer of security to the process.

“Face recognition with a fingerprint in authentication will also enhance Aadhaar security as it will effectively curb fingerprint spoofing,” UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told PTI.

According to the new measure, telecom operators will be responsible for obtaining an on-spot photo, which will then be verified with eKYC, prior to the SIM being activated. Telecom operators will also be expected to store the photos for purposes of audit at a later date. Non-adherence to the authentication process laid out by the UIDAI will result in penalties for telecom companies.

“It shall be the responsibility of the TSP that the live photo thus captured shall be verified at their backend system with the photo received in eKYC before activation of the SIM. The TSP shall store both the photos in its database for audit purpose…this process shall be followed for the eKYC performed for all the customers for issuance of SIM cards,” the UIDAI circular said.

The UIDAI circular says that starting 15th of September, Telecom Service Providers must execute 10% of their authentication with the help of face verification, failing which, penalty charges of about INR 0.20 per transaction will be levied. The process for authentication will be rolled out in phases.

Even as the compulsory use of Aadhaar has been criticized by both citizens and experts, UIDAI had tried to bring about facial verification from 1st of July. However, the date was extended to 1st of August. In fact, the Supreme Court is still reviewing a case regarding Aadhaar’s compulsory use by citizens. Still, some are saying the new initiative will be quite useful for people who face problems while authenticating with fingerprints because of illegible fingerprints caused by old age or manual labor.

UIDAI also has plans to cover other areas such as banks, public distribution system, office attendance at government offices, with this new security measure, rolling it out in a phased manner. For the time being though, it will be restricted to obtaining of mobile SIMs.

Startups and Government Gear Up to Secure Aadhaar

Recently, the Chinese government has also been considering the use of “bio-recognition technology” in its subway stations. Beijing is looking at implementing palm scanners and facial recognition scanners to help increase efficiency and decrease gridlock in key stations during rush hour. The US government is also planning a new facial recognition system on its southern border to record images of people inside vehicles entering and leaving the country.

Preeti Prabhu, the Lead Program Manager at Graymatics, an artificial intelligence company that classifies images and videos to provide customer-centric solutions said to The Sociable, “Facial recognition can even be used in transport in place of traditional card passes, as we see increasingly happening. It is also replacing biometrics for tasks such as attendance-taking, door-opening, etc. The uses of facial recognition are great, and Graymatics, with enhanced image analytics and cognitive media processing, is strongly established in this field.”

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company



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