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Aadhaar exclusion from biometrics block to be lifted for 2.7M in Assam

Aadhaar exclusion from biometrics block to be lifted for 2.7M in Assam

A state government decision in Assam, India has been made to issue Aadhaar digital identity accounts and the associated ID cards to 2.7 million people previously prevented from enrolling in the national system by their exclusion from the National Register of Citizens.

An NRC list published in 2019 did not include the individuals, despite the enrollment of their biometrics. This led to their biometrics being blocked, as they were in the system, but were not yet recognized as corresponding to a registered individual. The affair has dragged on since as a ready example of the exclusionary effect of the world’s largest national digital identity scheme, leading to a legal challenge.

Assam government ministers met with the All Assam Students Union and other organizations this week, and agreed to issue Aadhaar cards to those blocked by the NRC process. India’s Supreme Court is already overseeing the NRC update process, and may need to make a rule change to allow the new Aadhaar numbers to be issued.

As of February, 85.55 percent of Assam residents hold Aadhaar digital IDs, a government minister recently told the state parliament.

Aadhaar biometrics requirement in Bihar election questioned

A state election in Bihar in September, 2021 used Aadhaar biometrics to verify voter identities, but without a legal basis to do so, according to an attorney interviewed by MediaNama for an extensive look at the state voter verification process.

The legal argument is based on the explicit legal mandate and necessity requirements set down in a landmark ruling by the country’s Supreme Court.

A representative said the Bihar State Election Commission received permission from the central government to use the Aadhaar database, but did not change its own identity verification rules, according to the report.

India’s federal government has also been pursuing the use of Aadhaar biometrics in de-duplicating its voter rolls.

Security against biometric spoofs will need to be strong for a high-stakes application like registering to vote or voting, but a government minister has told parliament it is working well, noting that attempts to spoof Aadhaar biometric authentication with low-tech spoof methods have been thwarted, BusinessToday reports.

“Some cases have been reported of attempted unauthorized access to the authentication system using a gummy finger of an authorised operator/personnel,” Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, speaking to the Lok Sabha. “In all such cases, [FIRs] have been lodged for unauthorized authentication cases.”

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