The all-important Aadhaar is likely to gain even more ground as consumer-facing internet companies like Ola, Uber and Airbnb are contemplating using it for verification. BuzzFeed News reported that Ola and Uber had been exploring the Aadhaar option to verify drivers while Airbnb was planning to use it for Indian hosts on its platform. Both biometric details (iris scans, fingerprints), and ID verification (12-digit Aadhaar number) options are being looked at.
The report adds that Airbnb would let its hosts decide if they’d like to share Aadhaar details. “Identity verification is important to the safety and security of our community. We are exploring a number of different ways for our community in India to verify they are who they say they are, including potentially using Aadhaar,” an Airbnb spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. ALSO READ: Uber, Amazon are integrating UPI; Google, WhatsApp to follow: Report
Ola, meanwhile, plans to make Aadhaar identification mandatory for all new drivers on its service. Existing drivers will have to get Aadhaar-authenticated at Ola’s on-boarding centers starting next week, the report added. Drivers who fail to do so would be terminated by Ola. Both Ola and Uber have strict driver verification rules in place where they require them to submit several documents at the time of on-boarding. Aadhaar will add another layer of verification, and help them check driver-related mishaps such as rape, kidnapping, ransom, etc.
Earlier this year, Microsoft was the first big tech firm to integrate Aadhaar when it launched Skype Lite for Indian users. Skype Lite is a data-light version of the video-calling app that allows users to log in via their 12-digit Aadhaar number. During a call, “both parties can verify their identity at the beginning of the call to prevent impersonation fraud,” Microsoft wrote on its blog. After privacy concerns regarding Aadhaar surged, Microsoft clarified that it would not be storing any data and user information would be securely encrypted. ALSO READ: Android Pay could come to India soon as trials with UPI integration underway: Report
While Aadhaar’s growing significance in the lives of Indian citizens cannot be denied — given one needs an Aadhaar card to do practically everything from opening a bank account and paying taxes to getting a mobile connection — rising concerns around privacy cannot be ignored either. Internet freedom activists have called Aadhaar a state surveillance system in the garb of an identity database. However, 90 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people already have Aadhaar cards — mostly out of government compulsion.