Aadhaar authentication rate falls to 88 percent

The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) has admitted that biometric authentication for government services through the Aadhaar program has a failure rate of 12 percent, The Quint reports.

UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey made the admission as he concluded his presentation to India’s Supreme Court, which is holding hearings on the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and various aspects of the program. A slide shown during the presentation said that the success rate for authenticating for government services has fallen from 96.4 percent in 2013 to 88 percent, while it has actually improved for private services, such as with banks or telecoms, according to The Quint. Pandey also said that the UIDAI considers authentications successful if they involve multiple attempts on the same day.

The UIDAI has previously responded to reports of failed Aadhaar authentications by reiterating that alternative authentication methods are expected to be used in cases of Aadhaar failure to complete service delivery.

The number of Aadhaar authentication requests for government services is expected to increase when the March 31 deadline for linking the services with Aadhaar is reached, though the deadline for mandatory linking of private services with the program has been extended until the conclusion of the Supreme Court case.

The five-judge panel also asked Pandey about the safeguards for citizens’ private data held by Authentication User Agencies (AUAs), the New Indian Express reports.

“There are two ends of authentication. You say that you do not know the purpose of authentication and the data at your (UIDAI) end is safe. AUA may be a private entity, what are the safeguards, if AUA parts with the sensitive information,” the bench asked Pandey, who responded that while the Aadhaar Act prohibits information sharing by UIDAI, the same rules do not apply to AUAs.

Pandey also told the court that while UIDAI’s CIDR database has never been breached, the agency has been directed to reveal only the final four digits of the 12-digit Aadhaar numbers in the public domain.

The Aadhaar program remains on track to integrate facial recognition by July 1, as Pandey confirmed earlier in the hearings. Meanwhile Aadhaar continues to be dogged by allegations of breaches at third-party service providers.

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