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Indian government to allow passengers to use Aadhaar card for airport entry


Starting January 2015, passengers with an Aadhaar identification number will be allowed to enter the Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore, India, using their fingerprint as part of a pilot project, according to Indian news website Economic Times.

India’s Narendra Modi government, which came to power earlier this year and was critical of the handling of the previous government’s administration of the nationwide biometric ID system, called Aadhaar a “failure” and a “waste of money” that does not adequately address control of migrants and national security concerns. However, it seems to be coming around to the use of Aadhaar biometrics as a form of travel identification and universal healthcare.

The Aadhaar program, implemented by the government’s Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), aims to provide all of the country’s residents with unique identification through biometrics, and is already being used for the delivery of services including, most recently, the payment of pensions. In recent months, India’s government has decided to retain and expand Aadhaar, allocating nearly US$340 million to continue with the registration process.

Aadhaar cards are accepted as an identity document at airports, however, the UIDAI, Indian police authority CISF and KIAL partnered on a program that rolled out an Electronic Know Your Customer (or “e-KYC”) based application at the KIAL airport. In this system, passenger information is sent to the CISF to ensure the individual is representing themselves honestly.

With Aadhaar incorporating biometrics that make document forgery much more difficult, a separate report from Economic Times has noted that the government could make enrollment in Aadhaar mandatory for passport applicants.

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