“The key is to think about it like a credit card number, the agency says; you share this with merchants all the time, but you wouldn’t post it online for everyone to see.”
The Unique Identification Authority of India is once again seeking to clarify how its Aadhaar biometric ID program works to the larger public. The government agency has issued a new FAQ aimed at dispelling myths and encouraging Aadhaar use.
Much of the FAQ is concerned with the issue of sharing one’s Aadhaar number. With the UIDAI having recently urged citizens not to post this information on social media, the organization is now insisting that this doesn’t mean there’s any cause for concern in sharing Aadhaar numbers with service providers. The key is to think about it like a credit card number, the agency says; you share this with merchants all the time, but you wouldn’t post it online for everyone to see.
On a related point, the FAQ also emphasizes that Aadhaar authentication has a biometric component, with the ID program supporting fingerprint- and iris-based identity verification. (Support for facial recognition is in the pipeline, too.) These biometric authentication options aren’t always available, but in cases where authenticating agents don’t follow best practices, they are liable for any stolen information or misuse – not the Aadhaar cardholder.
This isn’t the first time the UIDAI has undertaken a communications effort to clarify issues around Aadhaar. Earlier this year, for example, the agency had to take the remarkable step of reminding government service providers that they still had to serve citizens who didn’t offer Aadhaar credentials. With the national ID program’s reach now extending across Indian society and still expanding, the UIDAI needs to make sure that citizens and government representatives alike understand exactly what it’s for and how it works.
August 24, 2018 – by Alex Perala