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Facial recognition for Aadhaar verification mandatory from 15th September

Issuance of new SIM card and more services will require facial recognition along with fingerprint scan during Aadhaar verification; non-compliance will draw penalties.

Citizens will now require their live facial photos to be taken in account of Aadhaar verification, as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has mandated the inclusion of facial recognition going forward in various services. To be rolled out in phases, the regulation will come in effect from 15th of September.

Operations that are highly dependent on Aadhaar verification, like issue of new SIM card, bank KYC verification, public distribution system, attendance or admission at government offices and so on will start implementing the mandate, telecom service providers (TSPs) being the first in line. Failure to follow the norms of facial authentication can draw penalties like fines or even imprisonment, as reported by an English Daily.

Why push Facial Recognition for Aadhaar?
The aim of the verification authority is to strengthen the verification process with two step authentication – the first step being verification of fingerprint or iris on basis of submitted Aadhaar number (or virtual number), followed by facial recognition. Live face photo will be captured on the spot, which will be cross-verified with that stored in the UIDAI database. Since camera is embedded in almos t every laptop nowadays, service providers will not need any additional hardware for the technology.

UIDAI CEO, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, explained to the media that in this way, they aim to curb fraudulent registrations (especially in case of SIM cards) through fingerprint spoofing or other means. He also said that this step will increase the extent of inclusiveness of Aadhaar, as only a fingerprint-based identification may become invalid with changing fingerprint patterns due to age or manual labour. UIDAI has confirmed that the accuracy of the face recognition system will not be hampered by facial alterations due to aging, shaving or hairstyle and facial hair changes.

The authentication board has set a monthly target of at least 10 per cent Aadhaar-based transactions with facial verification for TSPs, starting from 15th of September. Shortfall of the monthly target will draw a fine of 20 paise per transaction less. Other verification-based services will soon follow suite.

Official circulars for the regulation were shared by UIDAI to Authentication Service Agencies, Authentication User Agencies and certified biometric device providers back in June and also earlier in August. However, the plans of implementation got extended and will finally commence from 15th of September.

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