by- Mathew Thomas
An article, “We’re All In This Together”/– “Aadhaar isn’t building a surveillance dystopia, it asserts your individual identity vis-à-vis the state”, in the Times of India today is a tissue of lies timed (as some think) to perfection – the day the Supreme Court commences hearings on the Sham ID, called, ‘Aadhaar’ case.
He begins with lying trumpet proclaiming that he has not set up a “surveillance dystopia”, but that his scheme is one that enables us (since, we are – in his view – incapable of knowing what is good for us) to “assert our individual identity”. What does he mean? Just as his oft repeated claim, “Aadhaar is voluntary, but service providers make ask for it”, it is his way of uttering falsehoods without batting an eyelid.
How can government’s collection of our biometrics and demographic data and tagging these with a number allocated by government through a flawed enrolment process and fallible borrowed biometric technology be assertion of our identity?
Now to his specifics. He has 6 points in his article. These are shown up for what they are here.
- “Need for Aadhaar arose because Indians did not have a universally acceptable, portable, unique identification”:
- Yet he asks us to produce any one of 14 to 18 other identities, from ration cards to passports to PANs to driving licenses, all of which he claims are filled with fakes and ghosts, for enrolling in his wonderous scheme.
- Passports are portable all over the world. Driving licenses are portable all over India. If the state databases are linked, then they could be verified online from anywhere.
- Our driving licenses are accepted in UK for 6 months, when we are to pass their driving test and be issued a UK license
- Biometrics of women, children and manual workers are of so poor quality that they are impossible to use in large databases. So, taking biometrics of children and even babies do not provide them with individual identities.
- “Getting an ID was rife with corruption”:
- Corruption in enrolment is as bad if not worse. In Bangalore, a sub-contractor of an Enrolling Agency (EA) was caught providing fake IDs taking bribes. The sub-contractor first bribed the EA for obtaining the contract against UIDAI rules.
- Sting operations by ‘Headlines Today’ and Cobra Post prove that bribery is rampant in the Sham ID, called, ‘Aadhaar’ enrolment process
- “Aadhaar was designed for inclusion”: The design, if at all there was any, apart from what the foreign biometric lobbies told UIDAI, was based on fallible biometrics technology which, results in huge False Positive Matches. These are impossible to resolve. So, UIDAI simply deleted the later dated enrolment when biometrics matched. By its admission (page 171 of counter affidavit to my petition 37 of 2015) UIDAI deleted 80 million people. If that is inclusion, we need another dictionary.
- “Inclusive ID sever no purpose if they are not verifiably unique. India’s many ID systems were plagued with fake records”:
- Yet, he has no compunctions using the same IDs from fake records for enrolling people in his Sham ID, called, ‘Aadhaar’ database.
- Thousands of poor are turned away from ration shops and denied food because their “portable, verifiable, unique ID” cannot be verified for one reason or other.
- Despite recommending, point of delivery authentication of IDs for LPG delivery he very cleverly dispensed with this when he realised that it does not work and the large middle class (and even judges of the Supreme Court) would call his bluff of “verifiable unique ID”.
- UK wanted to use their National biometric ID Card for their NHS, but gave up the attempt and scrapped the ID card system and destroyed all data. We borrow their technology (Prof. Daugman of UK holds the patent for iris biometrics) and claim to have set up the largest and most sophisticated biometric database of its kind in the world. Others who know the technology and its limitations are not so stupid.
- “Not just inclusion, privacy by design was another guiding tenet for Aadhaar”:
- His claims to privacy are laughable. In fact, his contracts with Biometric Solution Providers authorise the foreign private companies to “Collect, use, store, transfer, process and link to individuals”. The heading of this clause in the Contract is “Privacy of data”! The extent to which this man lies is mind-boggling. When one must give the Sham ID Aadhar number to anyone who asks for it, and for any transaction and link it to our bank account and mobile number and give our demographic data also to all, what is privacy is there to protect?
- He says, “When you link your bank account to your Aadhaar, UIDAI gets no data back from your bank”. What data does one use to access the bank account? – The account number, the password, the OTP (in some cases). If the Sham ID Aadhar number is used as KYC can one open bank accounts using the Sham ID number and use it for accessing bank accounts? Of course, one can. Is it difficult for UIDAI or bank to access one’s account data and do whatever they wish with it, if they have the bank account number, the Sham ID Aadhar number, and the mobile number to which the OTP is sent? Is it difficult to obtain the password using a key logger? How many use virtual key boards for online transactions?
- What stops anyone from opening a bank account number in our name with our Sham ID, called, ‘Aadhaar’ number and some other mobile number and set up fictitious accounts to launder money? Is this not what Airtel demonstrated?
- “Aadhaar is backbone of digitising old systems”: Haven’t nations like, USA and UK digitised their systems without the backbone of the technology we borrowed from them?
- The problem with the discourse today is that some modern reformists either don’t or don’t want to understand history and context in which Aadhaar was conceived”: No, Mr. Nilekani, we very well understand our history. Especially, those born before Independence, understand what slavery to foreign powers meant. We are now going down the same path of betrayal and treason which, made us slaves for 250 years, whereby our nation’s wealth was looted and the country made into poor starving nation. UIDAI is committing the same treason by providing access to all our data and control of our cyber space by linking all databases to one stupid number which, is allocated by employees of foreign private companies who control the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS).