The scenario looks straight out of a science-fiction movie: The user shows his smartphone at the pension office for Aadhaar card authentication; a small software inside that handset provides data of iris and fingerprint to the Aadhaar card server, and the pension directly credits to the user’s account.
This may not be fictional anymore as Govt. of India has initiated a ‘game-changing’ public welfare scheme which will drastically reduce time consumed to access Govt. services via Aadhaar card.
Aadhaar Linked Smartphones Can Revolutionize Public Welfare in India?
Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which administers Aadhaar Card protocols and it’s usage is holding some high level meetings with major handset manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Google for linking all smartphones with Aadhaar Cards.
This will enable direct linking of smartphones with the main Aadhaar card server via a unique encrypted key for security.
Considering that there are more than 100 crore Aadhaar Card users, and more than 40 crore smartphone users right now, this makes sense as well.
Right now, Govt. is attempting to provide all welfare schemes such as Jan Dhan Yojana, MNREGA; all public distribution schemes, subsidies such as LPG, health etc and Govt. services such as pension, provident funds etc via Aadhaar Card. Once all smartphones are automatically embedded with the Aadhaar card chip, then authentication and verification for recipients would become super easy and fast.
Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of UIDAI said, “This can be a game-changing feature in phones to become the identity of a person and let him do more transactions on the phone in a secure manner. This is perhaps the first time something like this will be attempted in the world.”
Now, most of the high end smartphones already has iris and fingerprint scanner; and that is required now is a small chip within smartphones which connect the user with the Aadhaar card server for authentication information.
But Smartphone Makers Are Sceptic?
Besides Samsung, other smartphone makers are a bit reluctant to embed Aadhaar Card chip in their handsets; and the main concern remains security of data and privacy issues. By connecting smartphones with the main Aadhaar Card server, literally every information of the user stored in the smartphone would be accessible to the Govt.
Apple, especially, must be thinking twice, thrice before opening up their closed eco-system to Indian Govt.
Apple, Google, Microsoft has refused to comment; but Samsung was quite enthusiast as their spokesperson said, “Galaxy Tab Iris will support government benefit programmes and enable banks and financial institutions to streamline the process of an individual’s authentication, regardless of language and literacy barriers.”
Ajay has assured that once the Aadhaar Card chip is protected by a unique encrypted key, which would be installed at the chip level, the information flow between the smartphone and the server would be secured, safe. Infact, besides the Aadhaar server, no one else would be able to access the information.
UIDAI officials have in fact assured highest level of security and safety to store bio-metric information of 100 crore+ Indians.
It would be interesting to observe how smartphone makers respond to this offer of linking Aadhaar cards with smartphones; as security of data remains one of the strongest concerns. We have already reported how Aadhaar card linked scams are increasing these days, and how gullible citizens are opening up their precious data to scamsters.
We will keep you updated as more information comes in.
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