The Aadhaar initiative by the Indian government aims to build a digital database of every citizen – complete with fingerprint & iris scans. The goal is to build a centralized authentication system for every Indian citizen, which can then be used to provide various private and public services.
At an event in Bengaluru, Microsoft India Chairman Bhaskar Pramanik mentioned how Microsoft has been researching ways to integrate Aadhaar-based features into Microsoft products.
Since Windows 10 already supports Iris-based authentication, and fingerprint sensors have existed for Windows PCs since decades, the hardware technology needed for authentication already exists. The missing link is the software integration – and that’s where Microsoft wants to fill the gap.
At the event, Pramanik gave an interesting use case for Aadhaar-based authentication with Skype.
“For example, there’s a bank that is delivering pension. Right now, to prove that you’re still alive, you have to physically visit the bank, and then they give you a certificate. With an Aadhaar enabled Skype, we could do it from home.”
The idea is to eliminate the requirement of presence – since Aadhaar can already authenticate your identity, you should be able to simply get your work done via a Skype call. This isn’t the only scenario this could be used for of course, but it is a good start.
In the past few years, fingerprint sensors have started to show up on mobile devices as well. As these sensors become accurate and affordable enough to add in mobile devices, they can be used for Aadhaar authentication as well.
While it is only an idea at the moment – the government is keen on involving private companies within the Aadhaar ecosystem. However, it is important to make sure the companies implement an identity authentication system without compromising on privacy.