India's Big Brother: Fingerprint and Eye Scans Required for Food and Medicine

Mish

India collects biometric data on 1.3 billion residents for use in a nationwide identity system called Aadhaar.

The New York Times notes Big Brother has Arrived in India.

Seeking to build an identification system of unprecedented scope, India is scanning the fingerprints, eyes and faces of its 1.3 billion residents and connecting the data to everything from welfare benefits to mobile phones.

Civil libertarians are horrified, viewing the program, called Aadhaar, as Orwell’s Big Brother brought to life. To the government, it’s more like “big brother,” a term of endearment used by many Indians to address a stranger when asking for help.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other champions of the program say that Aadhaar is India’s ticket to the future, a universal, easy-to-use ID that will reduce this country’s endemic corruption and help bring even the most illiterate into the digital age.

The poor must scan their fingerprints at the ration shop to get their government allocations of rice. Retirees must do the same to get their pensions. Middle-school students cannot enter the water department’s annual painting contest until they submit their identification.

The Modi government has also ordered Indians to link their IDs to their cellphone and bank accounts.

Although the system’s core fingerprint, iris and face database appears to have remained secure, at least 210 government websites have leaked other personal data — such as name, birth date, address, parents’ names, bank account number and Aadhaar number — for millions of Indians. Some of that data is still available with a simple Google search.

As Aadhaar has become mandatory for government benefits, parts of rural India have struggled with the internet connections necessary to make Aadhaar work. After a lifetime of manual labor, many Indians also have no readable prints, making authentication difficult. One recent study found that 20 percent of the households in Jharkand state had failed to get their food rations under Aadhaar-based verification — five times the failure rate of ration cards.

Does anyone see this system as a benefit for the people?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (27)
No. 1-27
RonJ
RonJ

"Does anyone see this system as a benefit for the people?" It is not meant as a benefit to the people.

RonJ
RonJ

Neither is gun control.

Curious-Cat
Curious-Cat

It's not pretty but I think I see why the government is doing this. Article in The Times of India says India must grow at 9% to provide youth jobs. https://goo.gl/YFSpQ9 Since that level of growth may be seen as impossible, India will be left with many young people who are unable to marry and form households. A society where there are many young unattached young men tends toward violence. The government may be forecasting these events and preparing itself for stronger control to manage the coming chaos. Ditto with China.

Hooligan
Hooligan

seems bass ackwards - only politicians should be tracked in this way - yanno, to hold them accountable and such.

Brother
Brother

It will happen here voluntarily as a convenience.

stillCJ
stillCJ

Editor

Absolutely Big Brother. The Brave New World sucks.

QTPie
QTPie

Yes, a scheme like this can have a dark side but on the other hand, at least theoretically, biometric identification can cut down on corruption and ID theft and make payments more convenient.

Andysyd
Andysyd

On the money QTPie, however like any government intervention its always the person who is next in line to power who may NOT be "your guy" which may abuse the powers and new capabilities that have been given.

Realist
Realist

Technology, such as this, is indeed the solution to many problems. Replacing ID cards with fingerprint, eye, and facial recognition is a more efficient method of identifying people. The fact that this feels Orwellian and controlling incites fears of “Big Brother” intruding into people’s lives and their privacy. The reality, is that it is going to happen, whether people like it or not. The same goes for driverless vehicles and digital currency.

gstegen
gstegen

This feels kind of creepy. The Nazis would have loved to have this kind of system. The next logical step is to effectively eliminate use of cash to allow big brother to pretty monitor and control pretty much everything people do. Another logical enhancement is to add DNA analysis. Besides increasing the ability of the Government to cleans the population of select groups of people it would be very valuable to issuers of life insurance, health insurance, and maybe even loans in order to detect people with a higher risk of health problems, early death, or reduced likelihood of paying back a loan. I would not surprise me if you could get some meaningful insight on these probabilities just from the facial recognition data.

Realist
Realist

It is indeed a brave new world, dominated by technology. Since it is nearly impossible to stop technological progress, the only solution is to monitor, and regulate it as best we can to reduce the negatives and enhance the positives.

Greggg
Greggg

.... and if you don't comply, BLEEP, you are gone from the data base. the Zionist plan. I'm waiting to see if peace in NOKO will bet tied together with the installation of a central banking system.

DBG8489
DBG8489

When I was growing up in the late seventies and early eighties, the biggest fear I remember on everyone's brain was the government's (any government's) ability to track what regular people were doing. It was rumored that Reagan had a fit at his own party's attempt to implement some sort of regulation that would require people to register with some bullshit agency or another.

Today? Today we pay money up front and monthly for a device we carry everywhere that tracks pretty much everything we do and - if you enable it - will listen to everything you say allegedly recording nothing, but simply waiting for you to say two or three magic words at which point it will "wake up" and listen to everything you say...

And as we were all shown by Edward Snowden, .gov has access to all of this info and more.

MissionAccomplished
MissionAccomplished

Endemic orruption has its costs.

killben
killben

Mish,

Aadhaar, which was envisaged as a tool to ensure welfare reaches the right person (Indian system had immense leakages including corruption and pilferage and thus made sense in some ways) has now been turned into a surveillance tool by the BJP by making it mandatory to link it to bank accounts, mobile phone, driving license, buying property etc. (literally linking it to anything). A few activists have taken it to courts and the verdict is awaited. In a way press is also putting up a fight on this issue. How this will play out remains to be soon.

This has been done cleverly by BJP by making itself out as a party that is clean as a whistle and portraying Aadhaar as needed to catch criminals and rich guys and downplaying that it can be used as a surveillance tool and since it is the only one party capable of doing anything good for the country it is justified. For good measure it paints Congress as the most corrupt party that has done nothing for the country and thus if it is opposing it it cannot be out of good intentions for the country. Also anyone who has a contrary view is painted as a anti-national. Thus as per BJP, they are only people who are national and AAdhaar is needed to root out corruption. As of now this is working as it is winning in state after state. This victory only makes the party bolder. Modi is such a great speaker that he can make people believe he is a messaiah, directly from heaven.

The next general elections (to Lok Sabha- lower house) is in May 2019. Since BJP has majority in the house now it has been able to pass bills in Lok Sabha at will. Also due to the electoral winnings it has also increased its seats tally in the Rajya Sabha (Upper house). As of now, the opposition is floundering and is trying to come together (so many disparate groups with each group having its own ambitions and many of them enemies in the states (BJP is the common enemy so they are now friends) and each harboring their own Prime Ministerial ambitions) but whether it will work remains to be seen. All said, as of now BJP is in the driver's seat.

How things will pan out depends on the results of the general elections. IMO, BJP is still the strongest party and their twin heads - Modi, a great orator (probably better than Obama - like the US citizens in 2008 got fooled by the change we can believe in, Indians also get fooled) and Amit Shah, a great organiser - have the ability to pull it off. Hopefully it will not come to pass as without proper checks and balance in a porous democracy like India democracy can be easily transformed into a tyranny. Even now in many ways it is the Tyranny of the majority.

pgp
pgp

As always the problem is overpopulation. The same small percentage of human trash in a billion strong crowd means a million deadbeats siphoning off benefits from society's whole. Its always the lowest common denominator that ruins it for everyone as the cost to support or control the riffraff grows exponentially. Under the circumstances the only solution is a more draconian rule of law. Population is also the reason why the environmental damage we perpetrate as a species is beyond the Earth's natural handling limits. A hundred lumberjacks chopping down trees their entire life would have no noticeable affect on the world but a million tree cutters and the the planet begins to die. As always we should address the root of the problem not the symptoms.

fiftycent50
fiftycent50

Exactly! This has much more misuse potential then good. Most corruption is in the government. If anything WE should start making politicians do it, along with all there unelect types as well.

startrek59
startrek59

Before this system, efficiency rate of welfare pecuniary and non pecuniary was 6%. I repeat 6%. You can imagine where the 94% goes. Under this system the aim is to pay directly into bank accounts and close down the inefficient special price govt distribution shops and allow the receipients to choose and shop for foodstuff where the rest go. De-monetisation had similar aims but corrupt bankers money laundered the good notes disproportionately for their connected friends. That's another saga of corruption. Modi has no personal riches or scandals. After nearly 4 years personal scandals would be out by now.

Bhakta
Bhakta

I am an American who has spent extensive time in India since 1974.. Several years ago I had to acquire a "PAN" card in order to not pay income tax on interest income because I am over 60. Last year (2017) I wanted to open a new bank account and was told that I could not do this without obtaining an Aadhaar Card. I had no idea what it was. I looked at the Aadharr website and found that with my current bank account and the PAN card, I was eligible to get the Aadhaar Card. I went to the local computer shop where the application process was performed, finger prints digitally, eye prints digitally, facial, the PAN Card, bank passbook, passport (US), paid 500 Rupees prrocessing fee, and within 10 days the Aadhaar was issued, I downloaded it from the website, and have found things in India are much easier and faster, what to speak of being able to enter national parks and so forth and pay the Indian price for entry instead of hte foreign tourist rates. As far as I have seen, pretty much every one in India has this card now.

WhirledPeas
WhirledPeas

Here in the USA we are too advanced for such a primitive system. We will have chips in our hands and with merely a wave of the hand will get our government benefits. We are not concerned that such a chip will allow a dictator total control over everyone. George Orwell on steroids, here we come.

DBG8489
DBG8489

Oh hey, I have a great idea...

Stop taking money from those who earned it and giving it to those who didn't - then you wouldn't have to worry about the corruption inherent in welfare systems.

At that point, those of us who wished to support charitable causes would do do. Unlike now where many of us refuse to do so because we pay so much in taxes. You want my money? Go see my uncle - he takes more than 1/3 of what I make every time I get paid.

At this point, "charity" gets my used clothes, furniture, and appliances and such every year because I can deduct their value and get a tiny bit of my own money back. Here soon I expect that to be all but eliminated and as a result, charity will get nothing further from me.

bradw2k
bradw2k

"Although the system’s core fingerprint, iris and face database appears to have remained secure..." And what are the odds this database will remain uncompromised for another 5 years? How about 25 years?

Stuki
Stuki


‘Does anyone see this system as a benefit for the people?" It is not meant as a benefit to the people.’

Neither is gun control.

And neither is government itself. Governments institute these kinds of programs for the benefits of government and those in it and/or closely connected to it. Not for the designated lackeys referred to as “the people,” which the former universally exist solely to prey on.

The crazies from the other side of the Kashmiri border, while perhaps hardly all that either, can’t come rescue these saps from Modiism soon enough. Those guys, for all their ills, at least have enough of an affection for the Second, to retain a de facto veto on being registered, corralled, harassed and otherwise mindlessly enslaved "for their own good."

Hansa
Hansa

The holier-than-thou brahmins are running rough-shod over the lower castes as usual.

M11S
M11S

The US has a DNA database of every citizen from the baby heel blood prick they are required to send to the govt.

www.truthstreammedia.com/2015/10/05/did-you-know-you-also-have-a-uniform-birth-number/

MissionAccomplished
MissionAccomplished

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