Moneylife Digital Team | 10/10/2014 0

Aadhaar, Home Ministry, identity, UIDAI, foreign vendors, data security, Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Ministry has said that uniqueness of identity is not a necessary condition to ensure authenticity of identity or genuineness of other entries or records of Aadhaar number. It has also raised concerns on involvement of foreign vendors of UIDAI
The union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has raises several concerns on using Aadhaar, the so-called unique number (UID) promoted by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), and being forced down by successive governments. Especially, the MHA, while commenting on Department of Telecom (DoT)’s proposal to use Aadhaar for online verification has said, the supporting data in the UID may not be authentic or genuine.

“Aadhaar is strong on ensuring unique identity. However, uniqueness of identity is not a necessary condition to ensure authenticity of identity or genuineness of other entries or records of Aadhaar number,” the MHA said.

The ministry has written to the DoT sharing its view on accepting Aadhaar as valid proof of address for e-know your customers (KYC) programme. The DoT is working on proof of concept (e-KYC) to use Aadhaar number for online verification of people seeking mobile connections along with existing process of customer verification.

The Home Ministry has raised concerns over supporting documents submitted by people as proof of identity and proof of address for getting Aadhaar number.

However, it looks like, similar to previous government, the incumbent National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime is gung-ho about forcing Aadhaar on Indian citizens.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Finance Ministry as well as Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are either not aware about the serious concerns related with Aadhaar or simply turning a blind eye. In fact, all banks were mandated to open crores of bank accounts by accepting Aadhaar as ‘all-in-one’ KYC document.
Moneylife Columnist Dr Anupam Saraph, who designed and implemented identity schemes for government and private organisations, had clearly mentioned in his article that even if Aadhaar numbers were proof of identity, which it is not, its use to make money transfers make financial transfers un-auditable, propagate money laundering and financial fraud. There is no justification for introducing an unverified and un-audited number to allow payments and settlements. (Read: How Aadhaar linkage can destroy banks)
“When the Aadhaar number is merely a 12-digit number assigned to demographic and biometric data submitted by private parties; it cannot be a proof of identity, address or even existence. There has been no verification or audit of the Aadhaar database and therefore it is very conceivable that, as was the case of Satyam, huge number of non-existent persons is assigned an Aadhaar number. There is no basis to regard any bank accounts linked to an Aadhaar number as belonging to genuine or even existing individuals,” Dr Saraph has said.
In addition, the union government is asking its employees to use biometric attendance system, based on Aadhaar. It must be noted, that several organisations, including government and private use fingerprint-based biometric attendance system for a small group of employees. Many private companies prefer using card swiping or online login for recording attendance. Therefore linking UIDAI and Aadhaar to employee attendance is beyond explanation. Why would the government force employees to use Aadhaar-based attendance system?
In addition, there are two issues involved in the biometric attendance system that is being implemented to show online if the employee is present for the day or not. One is installation of biometric terminals and second network connectivity. Both are being purchased from taxpayers’ money. Moreover, this attendance system is time consuming as it takes more than a minute to record the attendance of one employee. So, the more employee in an organisation, more terminals would be needed to be purchased at taxpayers’ expense. Even if the online attendance system shows a particular employee’s presence in the office, there is no guarantee that he would be on his seat during all the time. So how will it benefit the common citizen?
Coming back to the UID and concerns raised by MHA, Aadhaar can be also issued to foreign nationals staying in the country. This also has been questioned by the Home Ministry as nationals of neighbouring country may attempt to use it to procure Indian identity documents for infiltrating their agents.
The Home Ministry has said that unlike Aadhaar, other acceptable proof of address documents such as passport, driving licence do not have the status of universality and therefore “even higher levels of error in these documents may not translate into comparable volume of security concerns”.
It said that Intelligence Bureau is neither aware of back-end systems, e-processing and e-auditing existing in Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar, nor knows how data is transmitted between units of UIDAI and how data are stored.
The Home Ministry has also raised a concern on involvement of foreign vendors by UIDAI for storing data and has suggested audit of data security.
Moneylife has been raising this and several other concerns since long. (Read: UIDAI’s not-so-‘clean’ partners and their tainted executives). UIDAI had selected three consortia – Accenture, Mahindra Satyam-Morpho and L1 Identity Solutions – to implement the core biometric identification system for the Aadhaar programme. According to an IT expert, L-1 and NADRA, the Pakistan unique identity agency, appear to have been created on the same business model. “Staffed strongly by persons with intelligence (quasi-military) links, the major goals of both agencies are to do business with their respective governments, and they succeed to the extent that they have virtually no competition. And this is the company UIDAI has welcomed into India,” the expert had said.
According to sources, the introducer system provision, under which people not having supporting documents as ID and address proof can also get Aadhaar number if he is introduced by a person owning a Aadhaar number, has been questioned by the Home Ministry.
The Supreme Court of India has several pending public interest litigations (PILs) on Aadhaar linkages and it would prudent to have a special court to issue a stay on all Aadhaar linkages till the cases are heard and at the same time hear the PILs expeditiously given the extent of financial ruin that Aadhaar can bring to India.
As far as the issuing of IDs to residents or citizens of any country is concerned, here is what Mark Lerner, from the Constitutional Alliance and author of the book ‘Your Body is Your ID’, had said…
“Sarcasm alert – the final titbit of information comes from the International Biometrics Agency. For all of you that keep talking about a New World Order or a One World Government, please stop such ridiculous rumours. Julian Ashbourn speaking as the Chairman of the International Biometrics Agency set our minds to rest when he said the following: 
“What information do governments share? With whom is my data shared, and why? All of these questions need to be addressed by an agency with global powers. An agency with global powers? Perhaps I am naive, but I always believed we live in a sovereign country. You may have heard of our country, The United States of China. No, that is not right, The United States of Britain. I will get it right; the United States of France. This country thing is really getting hard to remember. We have the surveillance cameras like Britain; we use facial recognition like China to identify dissidents and we sell L-1 to a French company. Thank goodness for my granddaughter, she just reminded me of what Congress and others have forgotten, this is the United States of America,” Mr Lerner said. (Read original posting from Mr Lerner here ).