Indian government continues to work out Aadhaar biometric and KYC rules

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) says that while Aadhaar account holders can block their biometrics, they cannot exit the identity system, which may conflict with the requirements imposed as part of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Aadhaar’s legal validity, MediaNama reports.

The UIDAI responded to a Right to Information (RTI) request filed by Gujarat resident Mahedihasan Aliarajak Patel, who requested information in writing on the opt-out process. The agency replied by pointing out a section in Regulation 11 of the Aadhaar Regulations of 2016, which outlines the rules for blocking and unblocking biometric data contained in the system. It noted that the process can be carried out at the government website.

Advocate Prasanna S told MediaNama that the UIDAI’s response is inadequate.

“The court order specifically directed that persons enrolled before the coming into force of the Act need to be given an option to exit Aadhaar,” Prasanna said. “Not merely lock their biometrics.”

The Supreme Court also ruled that children enrolled as minors can opt to leave the system on reaching the age of majority, and Prasanna argues that no further change is necessary to provide legal grounds for Aadhaar opt-outs.

Telecoms no longer authenticating with Aadhaar

All telecom operators in India ceased using Aadhaar for customer authentication to comply with the Supreme Court’s September ruling as of November 20, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told The Indian Express in an interview, as the agency has put Authentication User Agency (AUA) and KYC User Agency (KUA) contract on hold.

Both the UIDAI and private entities have wrestled with how to perform secure authentication and meet KYC requirements without using Aadhaar biometrics.

Pandey also addressed the issue of opt-outs, saying none have been requested so far, and that the UIDAI is carefully considering how the system will work.

He notes that private entities did not store any biometric information, and discussed the need for KYC information to be provided, even if the customer opts out of sharing KYC data obtained through Aadhaar. He also said that the agency has begun deleting authentication logs from longer than six months ago, but that completing the process will take weeks, due to the proliferation of data “lying all over the place,” after which the process will be automated.

The Electoral Commission of India (ECI) has communicated with the UIDAI about linking Aadhaar with voter ID, but Pandey says he told the Commission that using the system for authentication (rather than simply using an Aadhaar card as a general ID document) requires a new law.

For private entities previously using Aadhaar authentication he suggests using the system’s offline capabilities.

“The offline verification is a viable option. It gives you the same level of identity confirmation and same level of assurance. It is only a question of switching from authentication to offline verification,” he says.

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