Indian telecom association says Aadhaar face recognition rules impose cost and time burdens

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The Cellular Operator’s Association of India (COAI) says two of the new rules associated with introducing face recognition to Aadhaar authentication are a burden to telecom companies, The Economic Times reports.

The new rules for face comparison and audit requirements imposed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will increase the cost to operators and processing time, according to COAI Director General Rajan Mathews. While the industry organization supports the efforts to make authentication more secure and user-friendly, their ability to meet the September 15 roll-out deadline will depend significantly on the readiness of device manufacturers, according to Mathews.

“The face recognition enhances security for consumers. But two aspects of UIDAI’s order are of concerns to us. This includes a requirement that operators have to keep a copy of the photo and compare it at the back-end, thus duplicating the process done by UIDAI,” Mathews said.

He also said the back-end requirement could lead to duplication of efforts.

The move to add facial biometrics as a complimentary modality is motivated in large part by concerns over fraud, which were heightened by the discovery earlier this year that a vendor had used spoofed credentials to activate thousands of SIM cards.

A UIDAI official said the provisions are intended to ensure the security and integrity of the process, and that they are significantly less involved than previous paper-based KYC requirements. A majority of device vendors have already been certified, as well, according to the official, and financial penalties apply only to operators meeting the standard for less than 10 percent of authentication.

The future of the Aadhaar program is somewhat uncertain, with both court cases and a judicial inquiry potentially impacting its legal foundations.

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