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UIDAI lodges complaints due to inappropriate Aadhaar data use


According to an article published in the Times of India, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has lodged criminal complaints with the Delhi Police against three firms for illegal use of Aadhaar biometric data.

The firms under investigation include: Axis Bank, Suvidhaa Infoserve and eMudhra.

The newspaper notes that the complaints were filed after UIDAI detected exact biometric matches in multiple consecutive transactions which the authority said was not possible without biometrics being stored in an unauthorized manner.

UIDAI administers the Aadhaar scheme, which is primarily used to authenticate delivery of social services including: school attendance, natural gas subsidies to India’s rural poor, and direct wage payments to bank accounts.

Aadhaar is the 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Indian government to every individual resident of India. The Aadhaar project aims to provide a single, unique identifier which captures all the demographic and biometric details of every Indian resident. Currently, Aadhaar has issued over 900 million Aadhaar numbers. BiometricUpdate.com recently reported that over one billion people have now been enrolled. The system also provides identification to people who do not have birth certificates.

The scheme however is now being expanded by the government to enable digital payments. Analysts project that the country might introduce biometric payments on nationwide scale within three years, thereby eliminating the need for cash and typical electronic payment methods, including: automated teller machines, along with debit and credit cards.

The Indian government says that moving towards a full digital economy will allow low-income people greater access to the banking system. And recently, Indian residents have set up over three million bank accounts, which are enabled by Aadhaar-based fingerprint verification.

But many Indians are concerned about the “privacy implications” of using Aadhaar as a payment scheme, according to the Centre for Internet and Society and recently an independent Indian MP claimed that none of the records contained within the Aadhaar database have been verified.

Due to these concerns, it is not surprising that UIDAI has been clamping down on other illegal practices surrounding its biometric database. BiometricUpdate.com reported that agency recently terminated 24 fraudulent apps and Web sites which claimed to offer Aadhaar services.

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