India’s telecommunications operators are pushing government officials to let them use the country’s Aadhaar biometric citizen registry to sign up new subscribers. They argue that it would be a much more efficient and reliable means of enrollment than the current paperwork-ridden process.
While the Department of Telecommunications is supportive of the idea, the country’s telecoms have so far been rebuffed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which reportedly has security concerns over the issue. Those security concerns apparently revolve around the issue of users’ home addresses, which the ministry believes are not adequately tracked in the Aadhaar system.
While it is indeed easy for citizens to change their addresses digitally, the idea that Aadhaar cannot be relied upon for correct address information would raise serious issues with respect to the various other important government functions that the national ID program is used to perform, such as the administering of healthcare services. That may be part of the telecoms’ logic in approaching the Prime Minister’s Office directly to resolve the matter, as they are reportedly planning.
However it turns out, the situation stands in stark contrast to the recent kerfuffle in Pakistan, where telecoms were recently legally mandated to register the biometrics of their users, causing serious disruption in the industry. The fact that in India it is the telecoms who are pressuring the government to let them use customers’ biometrics for identification may speak to the overall success of the Aadhaar project.
Source: The Economic Times
September 2, 2015 – by Alex Perala