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Risk of identity theft major concern about UID
By d-sector Team

Without a proper debate in the parliament on the utility of a digital card for every citizen, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, accompanied by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, has issued the first UID card to a villager from Tembhli village in Maharashtra.

The Unique Identification Authority of India, headed by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, is working on the government's most ambitious project till date. The mammoth Unique Identification Number project aims at providing a unique 12 digit identification number to every citizen which will serve multiple purposes.

Mr Nilekani plans to cover 60 per cent of the people in the country in the next three years starting October this year.

But along with the hype and excitement surrounding this project, an air of doubt and distrust has begun to emerge too.

Each UID number is linked to the fingerprints and the pattern of the eyes of the concerned person. This inimitable biometric data ensures that the number is linked to only that person and minimizes chances of any misgiving or stealing of rations and wages from the eligible citizens.

However, the activists claim that in a few years, banks, insurance companies, cell phone providers and hospitals will demand UID number for any transaction with citizens. Soon everyone’s name, address, bank account numbers, personal information and identity as a whole will be solely linked and governed by those 12 digit number one is given.

Mr Nilekani describes UID project as "A foolproof project implemented at a low cost". But the facts state something else. Britain recently stopped attempts at biometric based identification systems, after warnings that such a database could easily be hacked.

In a world where cyber terrorism is the new threat, and the countries are gearing themselves to protect against such a threat, projects like UID could be an open invitation to IT savvy terrorists to infiltrate government defenses.

Though fingerprints and patterns of the eye remain unique for each individual, but medical studies show that our eye's iris patterns could change with age, disease or malnourishment. Fake fingerprints can also be made. Hence, the unique element of these numbers can be tampered.

Since everyone leaves his fingerprints at all places, his identity can be stolen and transactions done on his behalf. The number can be used to disclose information about anybody. In case of an identity theft, a crime can be committed by rogue elements but others’ fingerprints can be left behind making an innocent main suspect. Apart from the concerns about identity theft, the number can also invade citizens’ private space.

Mr Nilekani has claimed that UID would be a cost effective project. However, as per UIDAI estimates the project will costs Rs 45,000 crores to the exchequer in the next 4 years. This does not seem to include the costs that will be incurred by Registrars, Enrollers, internal systems costs that the system will have to budget if it is to be able to use the UID, the estimated cost to the end user and to the number holder. All these issues have certainly made a lot of citizens concerned about utility and success of the project. Could UIDAI be able to answer all these concerns and satisfy the citizens?



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Political Development  > Governance > National Policies and Programmes

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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