India Moving Ahead With Universal Biometric ID Program Despite Growing Concern
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Only three months ago, I wrote an article entitled “Cashless Society: India Implements First Biometric ID Program for all of its 1.2 Billion Residents,” where I discussed the implementation of a relatively new policy in India geared toward the creation of a massive biometric identification database for all 1.2 billion Indian residents.
The system consists of fingerprints, iris scans, and facial photographs – information which will be attached to a Unique Identification Number to be referenced when combined with the traditional methods of identification and included on the chip-enhanced National ID card.
Thankfully, after some time with little or no opposition, the UID program is receiving a bit more attention in the mainstream press as well as from privacy protection organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation which recently produced an excellent article entitled, “Growing Mistrust of India’s Biometric ID Scheme,” which reaffirms everything I had previously written.
Although the program is allegedly voluntary, as I have written on numerous occasions in the past, the mask of being “voluntary” is inevitably removed after the program has been in place for a set amount of time, particularly as more and more people begin to participate or as the government gradually forces more and more to participate for one reason or another. Eventually what was once voluntary always becomes mandatory. In addition, it always carries with it the full force of the State backing the change.
As the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) writes, it appears the only reason the program is “voluntary” at all (even though it is voluntary in name only) is because the original statutory mandate for the UID was defeated by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.