It looks like about 94% of the UID numbers issued without biometrics have had to be cancelled.
The UIDAI has cancelled 3.84 lakh Aadhaar numbers which were reportedly prepared under the biometric clause.
According to biometric clause, the authorised enrolment agencies have been granted the permission to enrol people without taking biometrics like fingerprints and iris scan. But in any case, the enrolment agency must procure photograph and demographic information of the people. As of now, 4.10 lakh Aadhaar numbers have been generated under the biometric exception clause, out of which the UIDAI has directed to scrap 3.84 lakh Aadhaar numbers.
This isn’t too surprising. Last July, the story of UID numbers being issued to plants got quite a bit of attention and it was clear then that changes were coming to the process by which the UIDAI dealt with the private entities that underpin the enrollment function.
With today’s news and the accompanying hard numbers, it seems that there was an audit designed to put some specificity to what everyone knew was a flaw in a system where unscrupulous enrollment agencies could create large volumes of fake enrollments for which they would then be paid.
Now the numbers are in and the scale of the ID fraud possible in the absence of a biometric identifier is known.
The remedies are pretty clear.
Issuing a UID number without biometrics should only be done under very particular circumstances and with a very high degree of oversight.
Firms participating in the enrollment process should face incentives and sanctions based upon their performance. That could mean bonuses for firms with very good performance, penalties for bad data practices, and worse for those actively committing fraud.
The good news is that database technology makes the technical part of figuring out who’s doing what fairly straightforward. The hard part, as always, will be agreeing on the nature of the carrots and sticks to be deployed.