India’s nationwide biometric ID database ruled constitutional

Submitted by Freedomman on Wed, 10/10/2018 - 17:38

NEW DELHI, India (PNN) - September 27, 2018 - As the march toward a cashless (and privacy-less) society accelerates forward, a new high watermark has been reached.

India first introduced its concept for a nationwide biometric ID database more than 7 years ago, which it touted as a necessary “social welfare” program to assist the millions of India’s unbanked, streamline welfare distribution, and reduce corruption.

Yet, although the justification for the billion person database is the increased ability to accurately disperse social welfare benefits, it will not be just the Indian government’s social welfare programs that have access to and utilize the UIDAI. Indeed, even before the program has been completed, major banks, state/local governments, and other institutions are planning to use the UIDAI for identification verification purposes and, of course, payment and accessibility.

India’s top court addressed the constitutionality of the program as well as deeper concerns about ongoing privacy violations.

The country’s controversial Aadhaar program uses photos, finger and eye scans and has already signed up more than 1 billion people. It has sparked an intense global debate over how far a democracy should be able to go in collecting the personal data of its citizens and how that data can be used, shared and protected.

Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling was a response to multiple challenges to the system.

A five-judge panel ruled in a 4-1 decision that the program is constitutional and helps the poor by streamlining disbursement of welfare benefits. Being in the database, however, shouldn’t be required for using mobile phones, opening bank accounts or for school admissions, according to the 1,448-page document outlining the court’s decision. It had been unclear for some time whether such organizations could compel people to supply Aadhaar numbers.

In case it’s not ultra clear, that last statement is as close to an admission of technocratic policy as you’re likely to get coming from a supposed democracy. Or if you prefer the Star Trek version: Resistance is Futile, as you give up your freedom and are assimilated into the Borg.

Time and again, we have seen countries - both democratic and autocratic - serve as blueprints for others to follow. Given the surge in the use of biometrics for airline travel, and other forms of “elective” identification in the Fascist Police States of Amerika, is it really unreasonable to assume that if a country of more than 1 billion people can implement this, then the FPSA population of 350 million will not be protected by its own Constitution?