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Microsoft launches Skype Lite in India with Aadhaar verification

Microsoft has launched a new Skype app called ‘Lite’ that can run on lower end phones and slow 2G networks, reports Buzzfeed. Interestingly, the app integrates with Aadhaar IDs, to use it for user authentication.

The app currently does not support biometric authentication, instead lets users input in their Aadhaar number during a call to verify the user. The, for example, can be used by interviewers to establish the identity of the candidates. According to Microsoft, it will delete all ID information from the verifier’s device once the call is done.

Note that in September last year, Microsoft has demonstrated use cases of Skype authenticating identity using the Aadhaar database. The company had begun working on a pilot to integrate Skype with the Aadhaar database in February last year. At the time, the company was testing if Aadhaar could be used to identify users for video calls with government organisations and institutions, but it seems the company has expanded the scope to include private companies as well.

As for the features, the Lite app has almost all the features from the main app, and adds seven local languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu. It also compresses the videos and pcitures etc to enable smoother functioning on slower connections. Users can also see how much data calls or sending messages, videos or pictures has consumed. The app is currently available only in India.

Implementation of Aadhaar:

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to link mobile numbers with Aadhaar within a year, meanwhile, India Post Payments Bank said it would enable users to send and receive money through an Aadhaar without linking it to a bank account. Last year, online matrimonial site LoveVivah had tied up with UIDAI to sign up users with their Aadhaar cards.

The usage of Aadhaar as a verification system has been on the rise where multiple services including the IIT JEE, employee provident funds, PDS food grain purchases, RTE admissions and Jharkhand’s food and public distribution systems also using it. However, use of Aadhaar by making it compulsory to avail some services, has come under heavy criticism for not respecting user privacy or being very secure.

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