The Unique Identification Authority of India has delayed its implementation of facial recognition support in Aadhaar, the biometric national ID program it oversees.
The support for facial recognition was first announced near the start of this year. It’s aimed at facilitating biometric authentication in ‘fusion mode’ – that is, when both a fingerprint scan and an iris scan are used to verify a citizen’s identity. Sometimes one of these modalities can fail, for example because manual labor has eroded an individual’s fingerprint; so the addition of facial recognition is meant to resolve that issue, with the third modality being swapped in for either of the others as necessary.
The new functionality was originally intended to go live on July 1st, but the UIDAI is now saying it needs more time to develop the technology, and has set a new launch date of August 1st. Even that new date isn’t set in stone, however, with UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan telling one news outlet, “We are trying our best to have this released from August 1st.”
The delay is, of course, not a catastrophic one. Aadhaar’s operation will continue as normal in the meantime, and it isn’t even clear how often ‘fusion mode’ is used for Aadhaar authentication, with many transactions seeming to be based on fingerprint scanning. But the delay is another sign of the UIDAI’s uneven handling of Aadhaar’s development as the program’s reach has become more and more extensive throughout Indian society.
June 15, 2018 – by Alex Perala