It’s Good to Have Real Aadhaar, But Fear Of Biometric Theft Is There

As far as identification technology for citizens goes, nothing in the world rivals or even comes close to Aadhaar. The biometric-based (fingerprints and iris scans) 12-digit unique identity, now used by almost 1.1 billion Indians, is the most advanced of its kind, India is at least a decade ahead of any other country in terms of using biometrics as an identity.

The US and other countries use biometrics at immigration. Australia and Canada use biometric-based checks for border control. Israel also has Aadhaar-like biometric database of all Israeli residents. However, no country is using biometric based systems in as wide range of applications as India is envisaging, says Madhur Singhal, partner, Bain & Company. Plagued as India is by the menace of duplicate cards—random estimates suggest many citizens have anywhere from two to five driving licenses, ration cards and the like—Aadhaar is the only one that evidently can’t be duplicated. And the government is pushing Aadhaar for almost everything—marriage certificates, passports, pension claims, opening bank accounts and now for mobile connections and also to be linked to PAN cards.

Aadhaar is already being used in multiple places. Its biggest benefit is universal and trusted verification of any individual and, as a result, Aadhaar is being used to acquire and authenticate customers faster in businesses like financial services or banking by doing eKYC (electronic Know Your Customer), eSigning of documents and so on. The government is linking transfer of subsidies and other benefits through Aadhaar. This ensures transparency. Aadhaar will form the basis for digital storage of documents as well, very soon, Even as the Aadhaar world expands, there have been noises about why it is being made mandatory for multiple government schemes and how secure it is.

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