ID, India, security, UID

The notion that UID is a threat to India’s security is absurd

It looks like they outsourced the headline writing to P Chidambaram. Nevertheless…

Fake enrolments in Aadhaar Phase-I spark security fear (Indian Express)

The first half of the article asserts security threats without exactly backing up the assertion.

The second half of the article actually describes some of the improvements upon Phase I sought by the UIDAI for Phase II. This part of the article is more instructive.

As for those who fear for the security of India, which environment is more secure?

STATUS QUO: Up to 500 million people (more than the total population of all but two countries) about whom the government knows nothing, whose status (or lack thereof) increases their likelihood of poverty and susceptibility to communicable disease, whom government’s attempts at assistance provide a magnet for corruption and graft, and whose lack of status increases vulnerability to person trafficking or other exploitation (I could go on and on).

OR

GOOD: A 99% accurate national identity management regime ensuring access to public support, banking, telecommunications, and investment markets to all Indians. BAD: Some liars, cheats, scoundrels, illegal immigrants and spies will receive a legitimate ID with fraudulent information. BUT: From there forward they should be unable to maintain more than one identity.

So you’ve got to pick your poison. While no human system attempting to account for over a billion other humans can ever be perfect. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to see how UID can increase insecurity.

Even if there are a million terrorists hiding out among the 500 million undocumented people, and even if they all get Aadhaar numbers with fake details, at least he government has the fingerprints and aliases of a million terrorists and if those same fingerprints show up somewhere else with a different name, some questions for further investigation present themselves. That sounds like a security improvement to me.

The most prominent UID antagonists have consistently relied upon the “UID is bad for security” argument which essentially posits that it’s safer to remain ignorant about a third of the population than to make some mistakes in learning about it.

See also:
India: How Much Fraud is Acceptable in NPR, UID
Perfect is the Enemy of Good
Biometrics “Fix” Identity

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