Government authorities in India are planning to use facial recognition to verify the identities of citizens getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, and is already piloting the technology in the state of Jharkhand.
As India Today reports, the plan was unveiled by National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma in a recent interview. The facial recognition will be facilitated via Aadhaar, India’s sprawling biometric identity program. Sharma is the former head of the Unique Identification Authority of India, which administrates Aadhaar.
Health authorities are, in fact, already using Aadhaar to identify vaccine recipients, but not with facial recognition. The identity program supports fingerprint and iris recognition, and both modalities are currently in use at vaccination sites, despite the fact that various regional authorities restricted the use of shared fingerprint readers in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak last year in an effort to mitigate the virus’s spread.
It appears that government authorities did not use facial recognition in their vaccination efforts from the outset due to a lack of confidence in the technology’s sophistication. Sharma emphasized that the UIDAI has been testing the “best facial recognition algorithms” in its pilot efforts in Jharkhand, and indicated that the technology will be rolled out across India after somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 successful authentications in the pilot.
Aadhaar has rapidly evolved over the last several years to become the world’s largest and most ambitious biometric national ID program. There has been pushback against the system’s expansion due to privacy and civil rights concerns, as well as fears of data breaches; but authorities in the country have continued their efforts to establish Aadhaar as a form of universal ID.
Source: India Today
April 9, 2021 – by Alex Perala