There are so many articles surrounding the advantages of National UID system in India. Here are some of the advantages I see going forward.
- Increased efficiency in public spending
- To control corruption at Govt offices
- More transparent and efficient voting system
- Better Tax payments (long way to go ,though.)
But like every other initiative there is a distinct drawback here. It is that of having a central identification system, which Mr. Nilekani might have noticed – It is identity fraud.
I assume the biometric card will contain information like digital fingerprints, iris scan or other easily scanned biometric features. Putting all this critical information in one central database could be a sitting duck for terrorists and other criminals.
We all know that the price we pay for using debit cards and ATM’s is an increase in the abuse of these convenient systems by criminals. If identification starts to rely on one major system, the information that is compromised will be much greater than with the more diversified systems that are in place.
Needless to tell that if the same card is used for business transactions it will lead to aggregation of private databases that can easily be cross-referenced with each other.
When UK government wanted to build a National ID card for their country 3 years back, one of Microsoft’s chief technologist warned them about identity theft and frauds.
"Fishenden, national technology officer at Microsoft UK, said that the plans for a central national identity register could lead to "huge potential breaches" and a leakage of personal information.”
"I have concerns with the current architecture and the way it looks at aggregating so much personal information and biometrics in a single place," he said
Ironically the same Microsoft seems to be interested in the project in india…Hmm Interesting!!
But like every one of you, I am also looking forward for a day the single ID would revolutionize our lives. Even before National ID initiative was made public, Mr. Nilekani had covered it in plenty in his book ‘Imagining India’. So we can trust that necessary thoughts and discussion has been done beforehand.
"But building these intelligent little stripes is the easy part. It is in making the back-end infrastructure secure and scalable, providing a single record keeper for the whole country and integrating the agents who issue these numbers that it gets tough. An IT-enabled, accessible national ID system would be nothing less than revolutionary in how we distribute state benefits and welfare handouts; I believe it would transform our politics." – Nandan Nilkeani, Imagining India
Image src: identityfraudnews
(This guest post has been submitted by Ganesan Vijay Srinivas)