Sunday, 21 May 2017

Aadhaar issues

  • The Unique Identification project was initially conceived to provide a unique identity number for each resident across the country and would be used primarily as the basis for efficient delivery of welfare services. 
  • It would also act as a tool for monitoring of various programs and schemes of the Government.
  • The objective was to eliminate pilferage and corruption in public distribution system and distribution of subsidies.
  • The first UID number was issued on Sep 29, 2010 and 111 crore Aadhaar numbers were issued to the residents of India.
  • The Aadhaar enrollment process is designed to allow anyone to get an Aadhaar without any documents mainly because Aadhaar is meant even for those sleep under the flyover.
  • Aadhaar is premised on the infallibility and security of an individual’s bio-metric data is a myth. Debates focused on privacy concerns, security of the database and on the legality of making Aadhaar mandatory are unanswered so far. 
  • Aadhaar is not an address proof, since the same was not verified and the entities that uses it as an address proof knows it but chooses to remain silent about it.
  • Aadhaar is not a proof of citizenship, but can be used to either apply for a passport or obtain other identity documents that can then be used to apply for a passport.
  • Aadhaar card can be downloaded and printed and can be considered “original”. UIDAI expects entities to authenticate the Aadhaar number based on OTP or bio-metrics by connecting to the UIDAI system, prior to usage.
  • If UIDAI fixes these problems, they run the risk of Aadhaar's reduced usage and becoming irrelevant in public life. If they stay silent, they run the risk of something may go wrong at a large scale in the future.
  • The Supreme Court reaffirmed that Aadhaar can only be a voluntary decision of the individual and that as long as a person is eligible to avail benefits and subsidies, the government cannot deny them those benefits and subsidies because one doesn't have an Aadhaar card. Despite this ruling, the central government decided to push through with these moves.
  • The Aadhaar Bill was introduced as a money bill in the Lok Sabha which means that the Rajya Sabha could merely make suggestions and that passage through the Lok Sabha would turn the bill into an Act. This matter is being heard by Supreme Court.
  • A survey conducted by Andhra Pradesh government saw 48% respondents citing Aadhaar issues as a reason for them missing out on subsidies and benefits. 
  • India deals with frequent cyber attacks from China and Pakistan. Hacking the Aadhaar database would be an easy way for other countries to create disruption within India.
  • There are many positives that a system like the Aadhaar will have for India. Aadhaar does make managing benefits easier for India but making it mandatory to avail benefit makes the Aadhaar database a prime target for exploitation. Forcing Aadhaar to be mandatory to file taxes opens up an argument on privacy rights. And the government’s argument of privacy not being fundamental does not help assuage any one.
  • Since there is no room to verify whether the bio-metrics have been recorded correctly or not leaves scope for fraud of replacing a person’s bio-metric identity, by the enrollment operator, by uploading someone else’s bio-metrics of another person. 
  • The bio-metrics is a changeable entity for reasons of ageing, manual labour, injury, illness, etc. and requires periodic update. There is no means to ascertain whether one or more of the bio-metrics is due for update or not until an authentication failure occurs. 
  • Authentication using mobile OTP, as an alternative to bio-metrics failures, is an antithesis to bio-metric identity, as it essentially considers a person’s mobile no. to be his unique ID. In banking transactions OTP is another layer of security for transactions.
  • There are many ways to commit an Aadhaar-enabled fraud. The potential gains from Aadhaar related fraud are huge, so we should expect people to invest their time, effort and money to stay ahead of the system.
If King disrespects the law, so will his subjects.

My View:
Aadhaar should be issued to resident citizens with validity of ten years. Foreigners resident in India could be issued Aadhaar with different color and validity of one year. Illegal immigrants must never be issued Aadhaar. The issuing criterion and procedure should be made stringent and infallible like passports & driving licenses. The original Aadhaar card with security features should alone be allowed to be used as ID proof, and address proof should be correlated with a recent document like utility bill or post office issued address proof document. Otherwise the intended objectives achievement failure is likely. In this society ruled and administered by crooks & rogues, fraudsters will always find a way to evade taxes and more and more procedures will only end up in harassing honest and gullible citizens. The recent demonetization is a classic example. Aadhaar is a very good idea, badly designed and even more badly implemented.

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