India reassures confidence in Aadhaar after Moody’s questions its reliability

(Reuters) – The Indian government on Monday reassured confidence in its digital identification system, Aadhaar, after a Moody’s report last week highlighted concerns about it like establishing authorization and biometric reliability.

India’s ministry of electronics & IT said the Moody’s report “does not cite either primary or secondary data or research in support of the opinions presented in it”.

The Aadhaar card, which is issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), has a unique number tied to an individual’s fingerprints, face and eye scan.

Moody’s in its report had said that Aadhaar’s system often results in service denials, and questioned the reliability of biometric technologies, especially for manual laborers in hot, humid climates.

The ministry, addressing the concerns, said that payments to workers under schemes like the country’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is made by directly crediting money in their account and does not require the worker to authenticate using their biometrics.

The government also said that Moody’s in its report ignores that biometric submission is also possible through contactless means like face authentication and iris authentication.

Retorting concerns made by the investors service on security and privacy vulnerabilities posed by Aadhaar, the government said that till date no breach has been reported from the Aadhaar database.

India’s Supreme Court in 2018 upheld the validity of Aadhaar, but flagged privacy concerns and reined in a government push to make it mandatory for everything from banking to telecom services.

(Reporting by Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)