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UIDAI announces September 15 deadline for telecoms to implement Aadhaar facial biometrics



Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has announced that the roll-out of biometric facial recognition for Aadhaar will begin September 15, with a requirement for telecom service providers to use “live face photo” verification for the eKYC process for mobile SIM registration, Telecom Talk reports.

Telecoms can authorize SIM registration with an Aadhaar number along with a combination of facial verification and either fingerprint or iris verification, or with a Virtual ID and a fingerprint or iris check, with face operating as a backup modality. Telecom service providers will store both the eKYC and live photo in a database for audit purposes.

“This instruction (for matching live face photo with eKYC photo) will apply only where Aadhaar is used for issuance of SIMs. As per Telecom Department’s instructions, if SIM is issued through other means without Aadhaar, then these instructions will not apply,” UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told the Press Trust of India.

Facial recognition will be rolled out in phases, with the first measure intended to prevent fraudulent SIM registrations carried out with spoofed or cloned fingerprints. A SIM vendor was arrested earlier this year for activating thousands of SIM cards with forged Aadhaar credentials. The process was delayed again due to the inability of some device providers to supply Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) with the capability by the revised deadline.

Vendors are expected to carry out 10 percent or more of their authentications using facial biometrics, with a Rs 0.20 (US$0.0029) charge per transaction levied for any shortfall, according to a UIDAI circular.

UIDAI said instructions for use of Aadhaar’s facial recognition feature by other categories of service providers, presumably along with information about their deadlines for implementation, will be issued in the future. The agency also said it is planning to simplify procedures for updating some biographical information in the Aadhaar system.

Pandey told India’s Supreme Court during hearings into Aadhaar’s constitutional validity that the modality would be launched on July 1, and the launch was subsequently pushed back by a month to give more time for the development of the capability.

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