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Facial recognition tested for Aadhaar authentication to financial services

Remote KYC cost too high for telecoms, advocates claim Aadhaar unconstitutional
Facial recognition tested for Aadhaar authentication to financial services

Pilots of face biometrics for Aadhaar authentication to financial services are being carried out by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Medianama reports.

The pilot, being carried out in cooperation with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), was revealed, along with some details, by UIDAI Chief Product Manager and Biometric Architect Vivek Raghavan during the Indian government’s Responsible AI for Social Empowerment Summit 2020.

Raghavan noted that the modality is not needed for every Aadhaar service, but should be available from anywhere over any mobile device for certain use cases. He also said that UIDAI has built “advanced liveness models,” according to the report, to enhance the feature’s security.

The feature is being tested with ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, RBL Bank, and Fino Payments Bank, as reported in August, to verify the identity of benefits recipients. The tests are being conducted for non-financial transactions, and a full roll-out of the technology depends on satisfactory test results.

Eventually, face recognition could be used for the NPCI-run Aadhaar-enabled payment system (Aeps).

The article notes that the UIDAI has discussed the use of facial recognition for authentication since 2018, and the agency’s database already holds facial images.

Biometrics are already used as part of video KYC processes for banks, and the authentication process may soon be extended to microfinance institutions.

Law enforcement agencies in the country are also in the process of standing up a facial recognition security surveillance system.

Telecom operators want video KYC fee waived

The Department of Telecommunications began allowing telecom operators to use Aadhaar numbers and video KYC services for onboarding new mobile phone customers and bulk activations last week.

With the system in place, telecom operators in India are now asking the UIDAI to eliminate the Rs 41 (US$0.56) fee for the use of remote digital KYC authentication, which they say is “unreasonably high” and hindering adoption, according to ET Telecom.

Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Director General SP Kochhar said the cost is “exorbitant” compared to other activation processes. The COAI requested the use of Aadhaar for SIM registration earlier this year.

The telecom industry is the largest user of the Aadhaar database, but as Kochhar pointed out, the postal service and banks are exempted from paying e-KYC authentication fees.

Civil society report argues Aadhaar disproportionate, invasive

A jury at the Aadhar Tribunal organized by the Rethink Aadhaar campaign has declared the Indian national identification project unconstitutional, NewsClick writes, on the grounds that benefits and services cannot be made conditional on a particular means of identification, and that the state cannot require mandatory provision of personal information, including biometric data.

The legislative process behind the 2016 Aadhaar Act was also found to be flawed.

Three jury members suggested that the vision for Aadhaar’s architecture may have been in the state’s legitimate interest, all jurors found it failed a proportionality test.

Rethink Aadhaar and several other organizations and individuals agreed to hold a People’s Tribunal last year, while the Supreme Court of India deliberates review petitions brought against Aadhaar after the court struck down part of the Aadhaar Act in 2018.

The handling of exceptions to biometric authentication is poorly and ambiguously set out, one jurist contended, resulting in exclusion and failing the proportionality test.

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