Face authentication feature to be added to Aadhaar verification by July

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Iris and fingerprint scans are already in place for the verification of Aadhaar users, but now the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is going to add face authentication as a security option. 

This is to facilitate the authentication of people that have run into issues when using bio-metric authentication because of their old age or wear-and-tear of their fingerprints. It won’t be a stand-alone feature but will only be allowed in fusion mode. This means that fingerprint or iris authentication will still be required, but face authentication can be used alongside to verify details. 

UIDAI’s CEO, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, confirmed that the feature would roll out by July 1 in his presentation to the Supreme Court titled ‘1 Billion Plus’. The five-judge bench is hearing petitions that challenge the constitutional validity of Aadhaar.

There have been lots of questions about UIDAI’s competency with respect to the privacy and security of Aadhaar numbers. Of late, it was reported that Robert Batiste, a French security researcher, could hack into the Aadhaar app in under a minute. 

More recently, another report by ZDNet said a Delhi-based security researcher claimed that there was a leak on a system that was run by a state-owned utility company allowing access to private information of Aadhaar Holders including their names, 12-digit identity numbers and bank credentials. 

On the other hand, Pandey claims that the Aadhaar encryption system is so robust that break it may take, “More than the age of the universe for the fastest computer on Earth.”

The security of Aadhaar numbers is paramount because they’re being used for identity authentication across banks, income tax, telecom companies, public distribution systems (PDS) among others. An average of 4 crore authentications take place in one day across the country. 

Addressing the recent concerns, Pandey reassured people that UIDAI doesn’t collect purpose, location or the details of any transaction.