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Co-WIN portal stops allowing physical verification of Aadhaar

Aadhaar, PAN Card

Vaccine beneficiaries who registered on the government’s Co-WIN platform by providing their Aadhaar information can no longer have their ID authenticated by just displaying a copy of the ID proof at the vaccination centre, software engineer Anivar Aravind pointed out on Twitter. This translates into a ramp-up of the government’s plan to create a National Health ID for citizens by hitching a ride on India’s vaccine rollout —while the Co-WIN platform authenticates your Aadhaar, the vaccinate results will be issued through a freshly created National Health ID.

The overwhelming majority of vaccine beneficiaries authenticated themselves while receiving their shots by simply displaying a physical ID proof (which could also be Aadhaar before this change).

Speaking to MediaNama, Aravind said that if a beneficiary has registered on the public-facing part of the Co-WIN portal with a different ID proof, the vaccination centre will be able to do a physical verification of their ID proof without adding an “authentication overhead”, which might slow the process down. However, beneficiaries who registered on Co-WIN with Aadhaar will not be able to just present their Aadhaar — they’ll have to authenticate their ID with a one-time passcode sent to their phone and go through a biometric authentication, facial recognition test, or “demographic authentication,” which involves cross-checking details on an Aadhaar with the UIDAI’s data on the beneficiary.

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Health ID shortcut, crowds: This approach could significantly increase the number of people inadvertently signing up for a National Health ID; it is a priority of the central government to make sure that more vaccinations are recorded with Aadhaar. Authenticating oneself during a Co-WIN vaccination leads to the generation of a National Health ID; while on paper this requires informed consent, Aravind pointed out that this is buried in documentation on the Co-WIN portal, and not necessarily informed to beneficiaries at the time of authentication.

Aravind also said that requiring such time-consuming authentication could lead to crowding in vaccination centres — Aadhaar is the preferred mode of identification for many people, and authenticating people who prefer to use it as an ID proof could make the wait for obtaining a vaccine certificate longer.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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