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Should Aadhaar, the world's largest biometric system, be on blockchain?

Opinion on the issue is divided, with some saying the move would protect privacy, and others saying the technology is very expensive

Max Parasol | TechinAsia 

Illustration: Binay Sinha
Illustration: Binay Sinha

While Aadhaar, the most comprehensive adoption of biometrics technology by any government in the world, has been championed by groups like the World Bank as having noble goals, saying it “helps willing governments to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups,” its critics have been vocal about its infrastructural flaws for years.

Security breaches have reportedly kept growing and “Big Brother” fears linger. Could help solve this problem? If is put on a blockchain, it would be a distributed database, not a central one. But could this work?

For the uninitiated, imagine the is a double-locked door that requires two keys: a public and private one. Jagdish Pandya (founder of Cryptocurrency Expo) suggests the database should be on the

“Right now, all information on is public,” he says. “Private keys can protect individuals from having private information given away by the system.” Pandya also says that this should be dependent on the context of the information.

Praneet Kumar (a lawyer-turned-blockchain-evangelist), on the other hand, argues that is a very expensive technology, and integrating it with blockchain could be prohibitive. “The entire migration to blockchain may not make sense,” he says.

Kumar (who is also the co-founder of the Global Blockchain Foundation) suggests that even if Aadhaar is migrated to the blockchain, security will be ensured:

Should Aadhaar, the world's largest biometric system, be on blockchain?

The entire Aadhar database needn't come on blockchain. Using an appropriate protocol like Ethereum, a permissioned blockchain could be made, and each node/block will be authenticated by the network. Only user authentication should be migrated to blockchain—this would create a private network to restrict data leakage, as APIs are the key source of data compromise.

While there have been increasing proposals for re-implementing Aadhaar using blockchain technology, there are issues to overcome before blockchain is widely adopted in India.

This is an excerpt from the article published on TechInAisa. You can read the full article here.

First Published: Thu, April 26 2018. 14:24 IST