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India's national ID program raises privacy concerns

PBS NewsHour

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Over the past seven years, across India, almost every citizen has stood in line to get a new national ID. It's a 12-digit number backed by biometric security. A head shot plus fingerprints plus an iris scan. It is the most exhaustive headcount by a country in history. Ajay Bushan Pandey heads "Aadhaar," the agency running the identification program.

Asian Countries to Roll Out National Digital ID Initiatives - CPO Magazine


In efforts to streamline government services and improve efficiency, as well as protect the privacy of citizens and combat fraud, several Asian countries are in the process of planning the rollout of digital ID initiatives. However, even as national digital ID initiatives gather steam, governments have been under pressure to avoid some of the pitfalls that have bedeviled such initiatives in countries like India – where the Aadhaar biometric identity scheme came under fire due to concerns that if it was not handled correctly could pose a threat to the human rights and economic wellbeing of the poorest segments of society. Rights groups also raised questions related to privacy and data security. The Aadhaar example is one that highlights just how quickly a robust well-meaning national digital ID initiative can come apart at the seams. In part the problem with the Aadhaar digital ID initiative was in its ambitious scope – the ID would have touched almost every aspect of the day-to-day lives of India's citizens.

India's controversial biometric ID card system could become the only one


If you were waiting for the Indian government to slow down (or completely stop) with its push to bring Aadhaar biometric identity system into your lives, don't hold your breath. SEE ALSO: India's database with biometric details of its billion citizens ignites privacy debate Started as an optional program, in the recent years, the government has upped the ante and has made it mandatory to use Aadhar card in order to access other services. As has been the case in the past, the decision was immediately met with sharp criticism. But the government is now clarifying that it won't be withdrawing its move, giving its citizens yet another look at how it intends to move forward with its biometric system. India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in Lok Sabha this week that that the new bill to make it mandatory for every taxpayer to link their unique 12-digit code and biometric information will go into effect from July 1.

A new data leak hits Aadhaar, India's national ID database


Another data leak hits India's national identity database, Aadhaar. India's national ID database has been hit by yet another major security lapse. Known as Aadhaar, the government ID database is packed with identity and biometric information -- like fingerprints and iris scans -- on more than 1.1 billion registered Indian citizens, official figures show. Anyone in the database can use their data -- or their thumbprint -- to open a bank account, buy a cellular SIM card, enroll in utilities, and even receive state aid or financial assistance. Even companies, like Amazon and Uber, can tap into the Aadhaar database to identify their customers.

India's top court upholds constitution validity of Aadhaar card

Al Jazeera

New Delhi, India - India's top court on Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of a controversial national ID (Aadhaar) card project after hearing extensive arguments around surveillance and privacy concerns. The top court was examining the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, whether or not citizens can be forced to enrol, and whether the government can make it mandatory to connect these IDs to bank accounts and mobile phones. The top court barred private companies from accessing the data and also directed that schools, banks and telecom companies can not make Aadhaar mandatory for availing their services. A dissenting judge on the five-judge bench, however, said the project "in its entirety is unconstitutional". A majority judgement of three judges, was, however, not convinced that Aadhaar violated the right to privacy.