The Stack Archive

India to require biometric ID at airport check-in

Wed 5 Apr 2017

Aadhaar India

The Indian government is driving forward with its plans to implement a nation-wide biometric-based ID system at all domestic airports.

The new system proposes the use of the Aadhaar – a 12-digit unique identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. The programme has now registered around a billion individuals’ fingerprints and iris scans.

The government has tasked tech company Wipro to develop a blueprint of the plan and provide a progress report next month, following which airports will begin to implement the new authentication system.

Currently, for internal flights, travellers have to present a passport-like ID card along with their flight ticket. However, the new service would only require travellers to enter their unique Aadhaar number at booking, and once at the airport they need only place their finger on the scanners to board their flight.

‘We want passengers to have as seamless and effortless travel experience at airports as possible,’ said Airports Authority of India chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra.

He argued that the new mechanism would allow airport screening and security checks to become more hassle-free for both travellers and airport staff.

Following a Supreme Court order in 2015, the Indian government is trying to mandate the use of the Aadhaar across various services, including for filling in tax returns, applying to welfare schemes, processing driving licenses and even graduating from universities and colleges.

The national Department of Telecom also requires that all phone numbers are verified using Aadhaar data. The policy means that any phone number not verified before February 2018 will be discontinued.

Critics argue that the Aadhaar system could have drastic implications if the data is abused. ‘Can the government…assure us that this Aadhaar card and the data that will be collected under it – biometric, biological, iris scan, finger print, everything put together – will not be misused as has been done by the NSA in the U.S.?’ commented lawmaker Tathagata Satpathy in 2016.

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