The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is all set to roll out face authentication alongside iris or fingerprint scans as a means of Aadhaar verification from July 1, 2018. This was confirmed by UIDAI Chief Ajay Bhushan Pandey in a presentation to Supreme Court last week. “Face authentication shall be available in fusion mode along with one more authentication factor like fingerprint/iris/OTP from July 1, 2018,” Pandey said in the powerpoint presentation titled ‘1 billion +’.
This means UIDAI's verification process will use face authentication technology in tandem with one or more authentication factors such as fingerprint, iris or OTP for authentication, instead of using facial recognition in isolation. The UIDAI, which is in-charge of the 12-digit Aadhaar had announced in January plans to introduce face authentication feature to help people who run into problems with biometric authentication due to old age, hard work or worn-out fingerprints.
The confirmation comes at a time when UIDAI is battling the legality of the Aadhaar Act in Supreme Court. The bench is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar.
Seeking to allay apprehensions over government's ambitious Aadhaar scheme, Pandey said Aadhaar provided a "robust, lifetime, reusable, nationally online verifiable ID" to Indian citizens.
The Supreme Court had posted queries on the exclusion of persons from getting benefits for want of authentication. The bench had said that sometime biometric details like fingerprints fade over a period of time and unaware and illiterate persons may not get them updated and can they 'be left high and dry.'
The UIDAI Chief sought to address these concerns when he informed the court that from July onwards, besides fingerprints and iris, the photograph of the person will also be used for authentication and no person shall be deprived of the benefits.
However, it remains to be seen how UIDAI plans on going about implementing face authentication for Aadhaar. After all, the face recognition technology is relatively new and isn’t actually one of the safest methods of authentication available. The technology has, however, become quite popular over last few months especially since introduction 3D face mapping technology called FaceID feature in Apple’s top-range iPhone X series.