UIDAI announces launch of face authentication feature from September 15

UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority Of India) is an Aadhar-issuing body of India. For additional authentication of identity, it has finally announced to rollout facial recognition feature. It will begin this additional security feature with the help of telecom service providers from September 15.

Earlier, the authority wished to roll out this feature from July 1 but was postponed to August 1. Many Authentication User Agencies were not in a position to implement face authentication. Finally, this feature will get effect from September 15. Monetary disincentive will imply from the next month. Telcos found slipping on the given targets will have to suffer from a monetary disincentive.

Along with authentication agencies like telecom service providers (TSPs), UIDAI will issue special instructions on implementation of face authentication feature.

According to UIDAI, ‘live face photo’ capture and its verification with the photo obtained in eKYC will be essential. In the scenario,  Aadhar would be mandatory for issuance of mobile SIMs.

UIDAI wants to eliminate the possibility of fingerprint cloning or spoofing. Also, it wants to improve the audit process and security around issuance and activation of mobile SIMs.

Earlier this year in the month of June, a Hyderabad-based mobile SIM card distributor created counterfeit copies of Aadhar. He activated thousands of SIMs using those fake Aadhar copies. The rule of matching live face photo with eKYC photo will apply only where Aadhar is mandatory for issuance of SIMs. These rules will not imply to the SIM issued without Aadhar.

Face recognition feature for telecoms

For the use of face recognition by telcos, UIDAI has created a two-factor authentication. Authentication of Aadhar number will be continued using iris or fingerprint and face.

UIDAI gives a solution to the problem when an individual is unable to authenticate his/her fingerprint or iris. Face authentication will be a good alternative to make the system more inclusive.

According to a UIDAI circular, TSPs will have to follow face authentication from September 15, 2018. At least 10 percent of their monthly authentication transactions shall be based on face authentication. If they are not able achieve this target, they would be charged at Rs 0.20 per transaction.

Final verdict

Face identification (authentication) will benefit customers with difficulty in authentication due to strained fingerprints. Also, the amalgamation of live face with fingerprint will improve Aadhar security as it will eliminate fingerprint spoofing.

The circular also mentions that after successful eKYC authentication, the telecom operators will also take the live face photo for the face authentication. It is not merely holding a still photo in front of a camera, but the real face photo for authentication.

TSP will be responsible to verify the captured live photo with the photo received in eKYC before activation of the SIM at their back end system.

Also, TSP will require to store both the photos in its database for audit purpose. So, every eKYC process will need to follow this system for issuance of SIM cards. UIDAI have warned TSPs that if they fail to comply with these rules, they have to suffer a financial disincentive.

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