As the debate over the reach of Aadhaar and the security of the world’s largest biometric database continue, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has made facial recognition mandatory for all services that require Aadhaar authentication including banking and mobile operators and government welfare schemes.
The authentication will happen by taking on-the-spot pictures in addition to the photo submitted for KYC formalities.
The feature is meant to complement the existing authentication procedures for iris (eye) and fingerprint scans. An individual will be required to have facial recognition done along with either an iris scan or a fingerprint scan.
The measure is being implemented following a circular dated August 17.
According to the UIDAI, the move has been implemented to increase the inclusiveness of the Aadhaar programme. The move is expected to help those who are unable to get Aadhaar verification done due to problems in scanning fingerprints. These include the elderly as well as labourers.
As of now, all telecom service providers have been asked to ensure that their ecosystems have this technology required to implement facial recognition. They have also been informed that from September 15, at least ten per cent of their total monthly transactions should employ facial recognition, failing which they will be charged a fee per transaction.
The circular also states that non-compliance with the rule will constitute a criminal offence under the Aadhaar Act 2016, punishable by imprisonment or a fine.
This move is likely to attract backlash because, in an earlier circular, facial recognition was not mandatory.
The timing of the move, which comes just before the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict on making Aadhaar mandatory for availing services is also likely to create resentment among people.