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India plans single sign-on for digital government services, Aadhaar fraud ring arrested

India plans single sign-on for digital government services, Aadhaar fraud ring arrested

The government is planning to launch a single sign-on (SSO) service for access to a wide range of government programs and benefits, writes the Times of India.

The common platform for state and central government services is expected to reduce the burden of remembering many passwords for government services, and to launch in or before August of this year. The platform would also help guide users with information about programs applicable to them.

A “National Digital Profile” would be created for all citizens and be used to pre-fill government forms, according to the report.

Aadhaar achievements and limitations

The total number of Aadhaar accounts issued reached 1.26 billion in 2021, Mint reports, quoting a statement from the country’s IT Ministry. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has signed deals with two service providers to set up and operate 166 Sewa Kendras (service centers) in 122 cities in India.

In Assam, however, 2.7 million people are without Aadhaar after their biometrics were locked, according to The Economic Times.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) collected biometrics from many Assam residents as part of an appeals process, after more than 3.6 million people applied to be included on a list original published in mid-2018. Enrolling their biometrics, however, appears to have run into the deduplication process of Aadhaar, meaning none of those waiting for a hold to be lifted from the “Aadhaar enrolment packets” NRC generates can receive the national ID or use it to access services and benefits.

The Assam government claims to have written the federal government and Registrar General of India, and an official suggested that the Supreme Court may have to intervene in the situation.

The Economic Times recounts the plight of a student blocked from accessing educational loans, due to the two-year logjam.

The UIDAI has passed a complaint to Hyderabad Police, resulting in the arrest of eight people using unauthorized Aadhaar kits and ID cards from Assam, MediaNama reports (subscription required and recommended).

Biometric devices including iris and fingerprint scanners were seized during the arrest, along with equipment for forging birth certificates to perform Aadhaar enrollments or updates.

MediaNama suggests that the arrests cast doubt on the purported infallibility of the Aadhaar system, and therefore its appropriateness for use with the electoral system.

Similarly, a gang was arrested in Haryana last June after allegedly defrauding the Aadhaar system.

Health cards in NCT

The National Capital Territory government is planning to collect biometrics and map the family relations and home addresses of Delhi residents as part of a health management system, according to a tender document reported by MediaNama.

In addition to clinical and demographic information, the health cards would contain a photo of the bearer, which could be used for authentication to access online services.

The tender suggests that voter ID will be required to receive a health card, and that linkage to ‘optional’ IDs including Aadhaar would be required for de-duplication.

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