Complete Authentication not ensured by Aadhaar details says UIDAI to Supreme Court
Complete and successful biometric authentication cannot always be ensured by the Aadhaar-based verification system that is in force currently, said the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey on Thursday to the Supreme Court.
For cases and instances where one finds that the biometrics that is linked to the Aadhaar identity of an individual does not match with the actual biometrics, there is currently no framework or system or institutional in force that would be able to resolve the issue, said Pandey while admitted this to the court.
There have been a number of allegations that services have been denied to people whose biometrics have not matched with those recorded with or associated with their Aadhaar accounts. Pandey made the above comments in connection with a case on that issue.
Issues with Aadhaar Biometrics and UIDAI
The government and its ministers have been repeatedly asked by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) not to deny people services and benefits if the recorded biometrics and the actuals do not match, Pandey told the Supreme Court and added that recommended the creation of an institutional framework and mechanism to tackle such problems.
There are a number of factors that can result in actual biometrics of a citizen not matching the recorded biometrics in the government repository. One of the main factors is trouble with the internet connection which can delay or break delivery transfer of data while machine and device malfunctioning can be another reason. Therefore, according to the UIDAI and Pandey’s statement to the Supreme Court, complete and absolute authentication of identity cannot completely and absolutely rely on an Aadhaar-based verification.
“Repeated circulars have been issued by UIDAI that services should not be denied [in cases where biometrics do not match a citizen’s Aadhaar details]. We have always advised ministries to not have 100 percent reliance on biometrics authentication,” Pandey told the Supreme Court today.
Public Interest Litigations (PILs) over the Constitutional validity of Aadhaar
There have been a number of petitions and Public Interest Litigations (PILs) which have sought to challenge the constitutional validity of Aadhaar – the application of which is overseen by the UIDAI, and Pandey’s comments and admission in the Supreme Court were made during the course of hearing of one such case at the apex court of the country.
Biometrics such as fingerprint, iris scans and photographs form parts of the elements of identification of an Indian citizen that is supposed to be available through a citizen’s Aadhaar identity. In order to authenticate a person’s identity while providing their services, service providers – both government and/or private – often make use of those biometric markers. But problems emerge when the recorded and actual biometrics do not match.
For example, for purposes of authentication of the details of an individual, banks tend to conduct a scan of the fingerprints of an applicant when that individual is attempting to open a new bank account and then match them with the available biometrics linked to his or her Aadhaar number.