India adding newborns and recently deceased to Aadhaar digital ID registry
India will soon cover people from birth to death with its biometric national registry Aadhaar, according to The Economic Times, aiming to clamp down on fraud and widen the digital identity system’s reach across the country.
The Times reports newborns will receive a temporary Aadhaar number that will be renewed with biometrics once they reach the age of five years. Once they are assigned a permanent Aadhaar number by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), they will be re-registered at the age of 18.
The move was made to ensure that children and families benefit from government programs and no one is left out of the social security net, says a government official quoted by the Times. While 93 percent of youths aged five to 18 are registered, only about a quarter of children younger than five are in the digital ID database, the Times says.
This comes after an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on behalf of UIDAI recommended children under the age of five be registered for Aadhaar.
India is also seeking to use Aadhaar for more accurate accounting of the deceased.
The UIDAI will approach public and private hospitals for data on the deceased to prevent database duplication. It will also look to stem cases where direct benefit transfers to the dead continue, resulting in pensions being withdrawn or credited automatically despite their death, as an active Aadhaar may still be linked to their identity.
The UIDAI will additionally seek to eliminate fake Aadhaar numbers or movement of multiple Aadhaar numbers to a single individual. It will also distribute the Zero Aadhaar, which is a number given to people who do not have proof of birth, residence or income, such as a birth certificate, house or income tax return returns.
Both of the Aadhaar initiatives are in pilot phases, along with a project to verify Aadhaar numbers through cross-checks with national databases of driving licenses, permanent account numbers, passports and other documents stored in the user’s DigiLocker.
Aadhaar numbers of Indian farmers leaked
Aadhaar also faces a severe security breach potentially impacting millions of farmers, according to TechCrunch.
Security researcher Atul Nair told TechCrunch that the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi agency’s website, which distributes financial aid to farmers, was exposing Aadhaar numbers. India’s 110 million farmers need to provide their Aadhaar numbers on the website to receive their funds.
Nair told the tech news site that a malicious attacker could have “easily gathered the farmers’ information by writing a script.” He reported the vulnerability in January to India’s national computer emergency response team, and the security hole was fixed in late May, according to TechCrunch.
It is far from the first major data breach to allegedly beset Aadhaar. The digital ID numbers have been leaked by service providers and governments, though the UIDAI has repeatedly insisted that the data’s publication does not constitute a security breach. Indians are urged to exercise “normal prudence” in protecting their Aadhaar number and other personal details.