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Government Privacy Science

India's Billion User Biometric Odyssey 81

mask.of.sanity writes "A bold new biometric identity system is being deployed across India in a bid to combat rampant welfare fraud. The mammoth system will collect the iris and fingerprint records on a voluntary basis of every one of India's 1.2 billion men, women and children. The Aadhaar project runs three trillion biometric identity matches every day — all on a small data center of commodity blade servers."
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India's Billion User Biometric Odyssey

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  • Re:4 years too old (Score:5, Informative)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:17AM (#45033335) Journal
    If you read down into the article you will see the court aspect that is news :)
    "On Sunday"....."successfully petitioned the Supreme Court in that country to restrain moves by state governments to make Aadhaar mandatory for public services."
    As linked, more at:
    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/aadhaar-infringes-on-our-fundamental-right-to-privacy/article5182765.ece [thehindu.com]
  • Voluntary Aussies (Score:3, Informative)

    by Baby Duck ( 176251 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:40AM (#45033413) Homepage

    ... collect the iris and fingerprint records on a voluntary basis of every one of India's 1.2 billion men, women and children.

    It's voluntary yet records every one of 1.2B people? Either India is the most sheep-like country ever (unlikely), or this system isn't really voluntary. Is this like voluntary income tax in USA?

    The project would be a bold deployment for Australia, but for the second-most populous country in the world ...

    Australia, whaaa? F- this article!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2013 @04:37AM (#45033607)

    when did India get a "Constitution"?

    Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] says:

    The Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into effect on 26 January 1950.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @04:45AM (#45033627) Journal

    This is a country where family members might, and occasionally do, bribe the local clerk to have you declared dead of natural causes, so they can take over your land and other belongings. Biometrics can't solve that...

    WTF? That's the problem biometrics were designed to solve. Say my family asserts I'm dead and goes to court to claim their rightful inheritance. I turn up, press a grimy thumb on the judges notepad and say "match that", case closed! The idea that better identification makes it easier for someone to steal your identity is pure nonsense. The reason your example scenario doesn't happen regularly in the west is precisely because we already have well established systems to uniquely identify individuals, a practice that goes at least as far back as William the Conquer and his Doomsday book [wikipedia.org]

    If you don't have a reliable way to identify property owners then you can't have reliable property law. If you don't have reliable property law then you can't have capitalism. Of course, outside the west the unwashed masses often do not have any officially recognised ownership of the land they have lived on for centuries/millennia. That lack of legal recognition is the reason multi-nationals can and do buy/lease huge chunks of land from third world governments and then hire mercenaries to rid "their property" of "lawless vandals and trespassers".

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:13AM (#45033867)

    I stole it from this guy. [dustinkirkland.com]

  • You got it wrong... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bayankaran ( 446245 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:42AM (#45033995) Homepage
    If you are saying Biometric systems are not foolproof from a security perspective I agree. But if you extrapolate that to "biometric data used in Aadhar will make the scheme fail" - then you have no clue whatsoever about the existing system and how Aadhar uses biometric data.

    AADHAR replaces the existing archaic mostly pen and paper 19th century PDS models - Public Distribution Systems - usually through 'Ration Cards' - to deploy benefits.

    There will be some amount of fraud in any system which is used widespread. People lose their identity in the West. Social Security Numbers or Social Insurance numbers are misplaced or stolen or identity hijacked. But for all practical purposes they work as intended Your social security card is only a piece of green paper with your name and number...the number is your username. And you do not need a password.

    The Aadhar number is only a username. The photo of the person, the address together with biometric data are added. It is for identification, not to swipe and open a door!

    For the AADHAR system in India, the intentions and purposes of using biometric data is not security, but identification. And identification works on different levels, biometrics is only one of them. There is no village / town / city in India where you present a photo ID and a machine scans it and gives you benefits - there is a person behind the counter. Thats the first step. There are other checks and balances.

    Still, local rowdies might abuse the system. Some corrupt officials might misuse their powers and try to pocket the proceeds. But this is a change which the country needed.

    (As a side note: Most states in India give 25 kilos of rice to a family of four for Rs 1 a kilo - something like 0.016 cents a kilo - to anyone belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holders. Some of the rice returns to the market when the BPL card holders sell the extra to local shops or hotels. No system can stop this nonsense!)
  • by bain_online ( 580036 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @08:49AM (#45034531) Homepage Journal
    Well you got it wrong.

    Currently the ration card system we have is you buy your subsidized stuff (food, fuel) at govt stores and govt pays the trader. Huge chance of fraud and corruption.

    What adhar allows is even poor to have an unique identity (UID) verified by the govt. This very improtnantly enables them to get a bank account linked to your UID which is impossible today for the nomads and the below poverty line people since they don't have passports or driving licenses.

    The next stage of the process is that the poor now buy their food on open market and govt directly deposits all the subsidies available diectly to their adhar linked bank account. All the middle men are trashed and window of corruption is a LOT less. Also there is electronic paper trail should a fraud occur. And yes there will be fraud since nothing in the world is full proof and completely secure. But its leps and bounds better than what is going on today.

  • by bayankaran ( 446245 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @10:37AM (#45035581) Homepage

    Congress is trying to change this by using this scheme as a backdoor method of providing legitimate identity papers(and thus citienship) to millions of illegal muslim immigrants from neighbouring bangladesh and thus inflating their vote bank. The nearest oppositional rival party BJP has a more pro-hindu stance.

    You made the most illogical and idiotic reasoning against AADHAR.

    Do you know how many illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are in India and where? Do you think even if all of them were given citizenship and free beer, they will even make 0.05% dent to the number of voters in an Indian constituency?

    There might be sensible arguments against AADHAR - what you made is flaming racist xenophobic nonsense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2013 @10:43AM (#45035671)

    Aadhar can only be used to identify yourself - and so you can apply for it even if you are a non-citizen, non-resident-indian etc.

    As a proof of identity, you can use it in places where you identify needs to be verified - for example at a voter's booth, to apply for your passport etc. So while you can use your Aadhar card to identify yourself at the voting booth, you won't be allowed to vote unless your name appears in the voter's list. To appear on the voter's list, you have to be a citizen. So all of this discussion about this being a backdoor method to get muslim votes is not true.

    Aadhar can also be used as a proof of identify but NOT citizenship when you apply for a passport.

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe