Indian telecoms blocked from biometric onboarding to comply with Supreme Court Aadhaar decision

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has issued notification to the country’s mobile network operators that Aadhaar-based digital authentication for eKYC purposes is no longer acceptable, the Economic Times reports.

Telecoms in India have been tasked with finding alternate arrangements to comply with the recent Supreme Court ruling banning private entities from demanding Aadhaar. At least one major mobile service is reported to have requested more time to put a new system into place, and several have complained about the financial burden imposed by the change.

While new subscribers can voluntarily use their Aadhaar number as a proof of identity, the biometric authentication feature is no longer admissible, in accordance with legal advice received by the DoT.

The new system described by the DoT includes photographs of subscribers, along with scanned images of proof of address and identity, be embedded in customer acquisition as part of a new digital process. Operators are expected to offer proofs of concept for alternate means of customer verification and report compliance with the new system by November 5. Telecom companies can provisionally implement the new process, pending modifications ordered by the government, which they will have 30 days to make.

The Economic Times reports that prior to the Supreme Court ruling, 90 percent of new subscribers were being onboarded with biometric authentication via Aadhaar.

“It will be back to the earlier days,” the Economic Times quoted an anonymous senior DoT official as saying.

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