India Still Trying To Turn Optional Aadhaar Identification Number Into A Mandatory National Identity System

from the sliding-down-the-slippery-slope-to-disaster dept

Last year, we wrote about India's attempt to turn the use of its Aadhaar system, which assigns a unique 12-digit number to all Indian citizens, into a requirement for accessing government schemes. An article in the Hindustan Times shows that the Indian government is still pushing to turn Aadhaar into a mandatory national identity system. A Bill has just been passed by both houses of the country's parliament, which seeks to give statutory backing to the scheme -- in the teeth of opposition from India's Supreme Court:

There have been orders passed by the Supreme Court that prohibit the government from making Aadhaar mandatory for availing government services whereas this Bill seeks to do precisely that, contrary to the government's argument that Aadhaar is voluntary.
The article notes that in some respects, the new Bill brings improvements over a previous version:
It places stringent restrictions on when and how the UID [Unique Identification] Authority (UIDAI) can share the data, noting that biometric information -- fingerprint and iris scans -- will not be shared with anyone. It seeks prior consent for sharing data with third party. These are very welcome provisions.
But it also contains some huge loopholes:
The government will get sweeping power to access the data collected, ostensibly for "efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services" as it pleases "in the interests of national security", thus confirming the suspicions that the UID database is a surveillance programme masquerading as a project to aid service delivery.
The fact that an optional national numbering system now seems to be morphing into a way to monitor what people are doing will hardly come as a surprise to Techdirt readers, but this continued slide down the slippery slope is still troubling, as are other aspects of the new legislation. For example, it was introduced as a "Money Bill," which is normally reserved for matters related to taxation, not privacy. That suggests a desire to push it through without real scrutiny. What makes this attempt to give the Aadhaar number a much larger role in Indian society even more dangerous is the possibility that it won't work:
A recent paper in the Economic and Political Weekly by Hans Mathews, a mathematician with the [Centre for Internet and Society], shows the programme would fail to uniquely identify individuals in a country of 1.2 billion.
A mandatory national identity system that can't even uniquely identify people: sounds like a recipe for disaster.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2016 @ 4:06am

    SSN?

    It will be used like the SSN is in the US. Almost any financial transaction you can enter into requires your SSN. These schemes can and will be used in the future to track the money and control access to it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 22 Mar 2016 @ 5:16am

    Talk about a huge haystack. NSA must be jealous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Mar 2016 @ 5:50am

    'Mandatory collection of personal data' is such an ugly term, we like to call it 'Totally voluntary sharing of happy fun information'

    Silly peons, it's not mandatory, it's just required for anything involving the government and/or public services. Not like anyone uses or interactions with those, so it's easy enough for people to avoid having to use it if they don't want to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2016 @ 8:54am

      Re: 'Mandatory collection of personal data' is such an ugly term, we like to call it 'Totally voluntary sharing of happy fun information'

      ...government and/or public services. Not like anyone uses or interactions with those...

      Does that include those using somebody else's identity?

      If you think that happens too much in the US wait until it happens with some regularity in India.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SSA, 11 May 2016 @ 5:41pm

    Aadhaar has become one of the most essential identification number in current time. If you want to avail any Govt schemes or benefits then Aadhaar is must. In fact if you want to open a bank account or any other schemes like Sukanya Samriddhi Account, PPF account you need Aadhaar a identity proof.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    One more Guy, 5 Sep 2016 @ 5:32pm

    Yeah, Anonymous Coward, PAN Card is there....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Another Guy, 11 Mar 2017 @ 1:46am

    PAN card, Voter ID Card, Driving License, etc. everything should be replaced by just one digitized card. Aadhar Card can be that, which can be then used for [tracking anything](https://speedposttracking.online) or related to holder or for any verfication or trasactions in banks or any government use.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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