936 million Aadhaar-based authentications is just the tip of the iceberg

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Aadhaar-based authentication has reached a record high of 936 million this month. This comes in the backdrop of the Union government contesting a battle against the demand of right to privacy and data protection in the Supreme Court.  

The officials said that the current number of Aadhaar-based authentications was merely the tip of the iceberg. Numbers would only rise in the future as more government schemes and processes would be linked to it. 

For instance, the government has undertaken a huge exercise to link 100 million students enrolled under Mid-day meal scheme with Aadhaar. The students would have to provide their Aadhaar numbers from September 1 to get a meal under the scheme. Teachers in many states have been asked to mark attendance using Aadhaar-based biometric authentication devices.

Similarly, the Income Tax department has also made it mandatory for tax payers to link their Pan Card to Aadhaar and e-verify their income tax returns using Aadhaar. There are about 60 million people who file income tax returns in India. Around 1.16 billion people have an Aadhaar, a 12-digit unique number, till date.

The Economic Times reported that 936 million Aadhaar-based authentications took place in July, compared with 444 million in April and 240 million in August. The report claimed that around 300 government schemes are currently linked with Aadhaar and the government’s plans to add another 200 schemes soon. 

The officials said the other reason behind the surge in numbers was increased usage of Aadhaar based authentication platform by the banks, and telecom players as per the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Act. Telecom service providers such as Jio and Airtel have used the platform to authenticate customers before giving them subscriptions.

Meaning of Aadhaar authentication
The process by which the Aadhaar number along with the demographic or biometric information of the holder is submitted to the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) for its verification and such repository verifies the correctness, or the lack thereof, on the basis of the information available.
Modes of Authentication
Demographic authentication: The Aadhaar number and demographic information of the holder obtained is matched with the demographic information of the Aadhaar number holder in the CIDR.
One-time pin based authentication: A One-Time Pin (OTP), with limited time validity, is sent to the mobile number and/ or e-mail address of the Aadhaar number holder registered with the Authority, or generated by other appropriate means. The holder shall provide this OTP along with his Aadhaar number during authentication and the same shall be matched with the OTP generated by the Authority.
Biometric-based authentication: The Aadhaar number and biometric information submitted by the holder are matched with the biometric information of the said Aadhaar number holder stored in the CIDR. This may be fingerprint-based or iris-based authentication or other biometric modalities based on biometric information stored in the CIDR.
Multi-factor authentication: A combination of two or more of the above modes may be used for authentication.

Source: UIDAI

Aadhaar-based authentication
Number (in million)
Aug-16 241.2
Sep-16 290.5
Oct-16 400.2
Nov-16 383.58
Dec-16 508.2
Jan-17 564.5
Feb-17 450.7
Mar-17 506.2
April-17 444.6
May-17 590.8
June-17 814.4
July-17 935.9
Source: UIDAI

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