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India claims to effectively meet SDG 16.9 of legal ID for all, expands authentication methods

India claims to effectively meet SDG 16.9 of legal ID for all, expands authentication methods

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the agency that implements the country’s Aadhaar identity system, claims to have reached almost one hundred percent coverage of the population, fulfilling the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 of legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030, reports Outlook India.

The UIDAI’s CEO, Saurabh Garg, said India had already achieved the goal and that India can now have programs with universal coverage, with an emphasis on private provision. Garg emphasized that India has achieved not only legal identity but also digital identity for all.

There is no further clarity on the “nearly 100 percent,” and one percent of India’s population is still around 14 million people.

SDG 16.9 is the subject of Biometric Update’s ID16.9 podcast where the outgoing programme manager for legal identity at the UNDP, Niall McCann, explained that systems such as Aadhaar which register adults directly and without birth registration, does count as legal identity. Critics, however, have argued that exclusionary barriers are built into the system, as explored in episode 5 of the ID16.9 podcast.

Garg, speaking at the FICCI Annual Capital Markets Conference, notes Outlook, said that the newly-launched initiatives of the UIDAI are enabling the voluntary use of Aadhaar and that more authentication modes covering fingerprints, iris and mobile one-time passwords, would allow people to more easily access private-sector services.

Garg said that more than 400 entities regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central bank, have begun authentication via Aadhaar in recent months. The CEO noted that KYC for private companies will be a major strength of the platform.

Countries have shown interest in Aadhaar’s system architecture according to Garg.

More state-level authentication and face biometric self authentication

Domestically, the UIDAI is urging states to increase their own involvement with the Aadhaar ecosystem, reports The Economic Times. This would mean using Aadhaar for more thorough deduplication of government service or welfare beneficiaries. UIDAI has been meeting with state government officials.

There are around 650 state-run schemes using Aadhaar authentication and 314 central government and sponsored projects using the biometric authentication.

Biometric authentication options will continue with face authentication via smartphones to then access government services for wealthier residents. More service providers will be encouraged to use face and fingerprint data, to cover authentication for e-commerce and payments.

Residents may also be required to update their data held by UIDAI every ten years by coming forward for new fingerprint, face, iris and other data capture. Along the way creating perhaps the largest dataset on aging ever.

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