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Saturday 10 December 2011

Standing committee points out multiple faults in UID 'Aadhar', asks government for fresh legislation

10 Dec, 2011, 01.21AM IST, ET Bureau
Standing committee points out multiple faults in UID 'Aadhar', asks
government for fresh legislation

NEW DELHI: The former finance minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant
Sinha-headed standing committee on finance has picked multiple holes
in the much-hyped Unique Identification 'Aadhar' Scheme and asked the
government to bring forth a fresh legislation before Parliament. The
key objections of the committee on the National Identification
Authority of India Bill, 2010 include:

NO FEASIBILITY STUDY: No comprehensive feasibility study -- including
cost-benefit analysis, comparative costs of aadhar number before
approving such an expensive scheme vis-avis various forms of existing
identity such as hologram-enabled ration card to eliminate fake and
duplicate beneficiaries -- carried out.

APPROVED IN HASTE: Absence of data protection law would make it
difficult to deal with issues such as access and misuse of personal
information, surveillance, profiling, linking and matching of data
bases and securing confidentiality information.

SECURITY GAPS: Entrusting the responsibility of verification of
information of individuals to the registrars to ensure that only
genuine residents get enrolled into the system may have far-reaching
consequences for national security. The panel not sure as to whether
complete verification of information of all aadhaar number holders is
practically feasible and whether it would deliver the intended results
without compromising national security.

DIRECTIONLESS: The UID scheme has been conceptualised with no clarity
of purpose and is being implemented in a directionless way and may end
up being dependent on private agencies.

UNRELIABLE TECHNOLOGY : The scheme is full of uncertainty in
technology as the complex scheme is built on untested, unreliable
technology and several assumptions. Despite adverse observations by
the UIDAI's biometrics standards committee on error rates of
biometrics, the UIDAI is collecting biometrics information.

LIMITED COVERAGE: It is not clear that the UID Scheme would continue
beyond the coverage of 200 million of the total population. The
exercise could become futile in case the government does not give
further mandate.

LACK OF COORDINATION: Serious differences of opinion within the
government on the UID Scheme. The Department of Expenditure, ministry
of finance, has expressed concern that lack of coordination among at
least six agencies collecting information --National Population
Registry, MNREGS, BPL Census, UIDAI, RSBY - is leading to duplication
of efforts and expenditure.

The Home Ministry has raised serious security concern over involvement
of private agencies in large scale scheme. The Ministry of Planning
has expressed reservation over the merits and functioning of the UIDAI
and the necessity of collection of iris image.

The National Informatics Centre has pointed out that issues relating
to privacy and security of UID data could be better handled by storing
in a government data centre.

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