An electronic identification (“eID”) is an identification solution of citizens or organizations, for example in view to access benefits or services provided by government authorities, banks or other companies.
One form of eID is an electronic identification card, which is a physical identity card that can be used for online and offline personal identification or authentication. The eIC is a smartcard in ID-1 format of a regular bank card, with identity information printed on the surface (such as personal details and a photograph) and in an embedded RFID(radio frequency identification) microchip.
The chip stores the information printed on the card (such as the holder’s name and date of birth) and the holder’s biometric photo. It may also store the holder’s fingerprints. The card may be used for online authentication, such as for age verification or for e-government applications. An electronic signature, provided by a private company, may also be stored on the chip.
Countries which currently issue government-issued eIDs include Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain, Slovakia, Malta, and Mauritius.
Electronic identification in India:
Though India still doesn’t have eID, the Indian Government on 28 January 2009, established an Authority called the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to issue a Unique Identification Number to all citizens and residents of India which is also the World’s biggest Biometric ID Programme. UIDAI’s Aadhaar card project gives each Indian citizen a unique 12 digit identification number, along with recording their biometrics such as iris scan and fingerprints on a UIDAI database and the card is being rolled out to all eligible citizens.
But unlike the eID in above mentioned countries, Aadhaar card is not mandatory to avail online Government services in India. On 23 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India issued an interim order saying that “no person should suffer for not getting Aadhaar” as the government cannot deny a service to a resident if s/he does not possess Aadhaar, as it is voluntary and not mandatory.