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UIDAI brings out status paper on iris scan

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 - 21:28

New Delhi: Trying to allay the apprehensions
expressed on the use of eye scan in preparation of unique
number to all residents of the country, UIDAI has come out
with a status paper on collecting iris biometrics.

Questions were raised from certain quarters about the
need for the iris scan even when the finger prints of all ten
fingers and a face scan was also being taken.

It was felt that the iris scan would be an expensive
procedure and that there was a risk of a vendor lock-in in the
UIDAI project besides other worries.

The Authority headed by Nandan Nilekani said, "A concern
with iris has been on cost. However, the current high prices
for iris technology are a result of low volume and its use in
cost insensitive security applications. Considering the large
demand that will come from India for iris devices and
software, the UIDAI expects the prices for iris devices and
software will fall rapidly."

It said taking into account expert assessments, UIDAI
expects iris software to be less expensive by 30-50 per cent
compared to fingerprint matching software.

On the risk of vendor lock, the paper said UID Authority
had carefully evaluated the available choices among iris
technology vendors and concluded that lock-in can be avoided.
It said the Authority will adopt a three-pronged approach to
avoid lock-in.

It said the ensure uniqueness, the UIDAI has to minimise
the false acceptance rate (FAR) in its biometrics.

"However, the Biometrics Committee (that was set up to
suggest the kind of biometrics needed) noted that the approach
using fingerprint biometrics alone, in addition to face, faces
two challenges in ensuring uniqueness and low FAR within the
Indian environment -- the varying quality of fingerprints,
particularly among poor residents and the scale of database,
at 1.2 billion records. Both these challenges could make
uniqueness in biometrics difficult to achieve," it said.

The paper said the risk that fingerprinting may not be
sufficient to ensure uniqueness is not a risk that can be
ignored, particularly when enrolling residents on such a large

"The cost and logistics of going back and re-enrolling
residents, in case the biometrics set is insufficient, would
be unacceptable," it said.

"The addition of iris to finger and face biometrics would
help the UIDAI achieve accuracy rates that go beyond 95 per
cent and would ensure very low FAR. This will also make the
UID number highly robust, and enable the number to be used in
a wide variety of applications that require high security,
such as in financial transactions," the paper said.


First Published: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 - 21:28

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