'No infringement of civil liberties'

Last Updated 11 September 2011, 18:36 IST

Deccan Herald elicited the response of Deputy Director General of Unique Identification Authority of India, Ashok Dalwai, on some of these concerns and doubts.

DH: There are apprehensions that the UID may eventually be used for monitoring and tracking purposes, and will seriously limit individual freedom?

Dalwai: We are collecting only minimal demographic data, limited to fields like name, date of birth, place of residence etc. Besides generating a random unintelligent number, no profile can be identified. Hence, there is no need for any apprehension.

Authentication for the purpose of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery by various agencies, including state governments will be a totally automated process and authenticates a resident on the basis of his/her Aadhaar number and one of the biometrics which will get compared at the back-end in authentication server on a 1:1 basis.

Critics say the project would give the government a free hand to profiling, segmenting and targeting a sect, group or religion?

The Aadhaar number is a 12-digit random number and does not convey any profiling attributes. As evident, the demographic data does not profile / segment / target any sect / group / religion.

UID is criticised as an infringement of civil liberties. The UK government cited higher costs, impracticality and ungovernable breaches of privacy as reasons for the cancellation of the National ID project.

Unlike in a few other countries with an already established identity systems and where the focus is on the security aspects, UIDAI is focussed on inclusive approach to provide identification to the marginalised and poorer sections of Indian population, so that they can rightfully claim their benefits.

Individuals have to inform the UID authorities in case of a change in address, phone number etc., from time to time. This may not be possible, especially when it comes to the poor.

We are working on a multi-option model wherein there will be permanent walk-in centres that are easily accessible like post offices, panchayat offices etc., for the residents to update the change in address/phone number. Agencies involved in providing various welfare services may also update the basic demographic data of the resident.  

There are complaints that UID cards issued in Mysore and Tumkur are not of good quality.
UIDAI has consciously decided not to issue a card. It only issues a unique number.

Aadhaar number is communicated in the form of a letter by post at the address provided during enrolment.

The letter is a laminated stationery, the bottom part of which can be cut and stored by the resident for easier handling. UIDAI has a continuous improvement programme that seeks to improve quality, ease of delivery, etc.

Iris scanning among the aged, and those who have undergone cataract surgery, malnutrition, etc, may not give accurate data. What about visually challenged and those who do not have hands?

As per experts’ recommendation, we are capturing multiple biometrics viz. facial photograph, both iris and 10 fingerprints. This ensures that those with partial biometrics (eg loss of limbs / fingers / eyes) can also be enrolled and their uniqueness proven.

UIDAI’s biometric studies carried out in three states - Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka - show that collection of iris image was not a problem for a majority of the people with cataracts and even for those who are blind.

It is said that some of the companies to which the UID work has been outsourced, do not have a clean record.

We are adhering to the public procurement policy laid down by the Centre. The list of the contracts awarded to various agencies is available on the UIDAI website.

The UID authorities have outsourced the enrolment work. Is there a mechanism to monitor the system to ensure accuracy?

UIDAI is working with multiple registrars viz. State Governments, Department of Posts, Public Sector Banks, LIC, etc. The registrars, in turn, have engaged enrolment agencies by following prescribed processes to carry out the enrolment. UIDAI has provided the enrolment software which monitors the quality of the demographic and biometric data capture of each enrolment.

The enrolment packet gets encrypted as soon as the enrolment is over and sent to CIDR (central Id Repository) for de-duplication. An eco-system that comprises authorised Enrolment Agencies, STQC-certified devices, certified personnel, use of UIDAI registered enrolment stations has been put in place to ensure the accuracy and monitor the quality.

Is creation of biometric data on such a large scale feasible?

Experts’ help has been taken to maintain the large database. By now, UIDAI has enrolled more than six crore residents and has successfully generated 3.2 crore Aadhaar-based on biometrics.

Enrolment process

During enrolment, residents have to fill-in an enrolment form with basic details such as name, address, etc. Evidence of Proof of Identity (PoI), Proof of Address (PoA) and Date of Birth (DoB) should be produced. If original documents are not available, copies attested by a notary / gazetted officer will be accepted. Additionally, biometric details - which include scanning of 10 fingerprints and iris, and photograph - will be taken. For children under 15, biometric details will not be taken; their UID will be linked to their parents after verification.

Documents that are accepted as proof

PoI (containing name and photo):

* Passport, PAN card, Ration / PDS photo card, Voter ID, Driving License, Government photo ID cards, NREGS job card, Photo ID issued by recognised educational institution, Arms License, Photo Bank ATM card, Photo credit card, Pensioner’s photo card, Freedom fighter photo card, Kissan photo passbook, CGHS / ECHS photo card, Address card having name and photo issued by the Department of Posts, Certificate of identify having photo issued by Group ‘A’ gazetted officer on letterhead

(Documents without photos will not be accepted. Older photos are acceptable.)

PoA (containing name and address):

* Passport, Bank statement / passbook, Post Office account statement / passbook, Ration card, Voter ID, Driving License, Government photo ID cards,  Electricity bill (not older than three months), Water bill (not older than three months), Telephone landline bill (not older than three months), Property tax receipt (not older than three months), Credit Card Statement (not older than three months), Insurance Policy, Signed letter having photo from bank on letterhead, Signed letter having photo issued by registered company on letterhead, Signed letter having photo issued by recognized educational instruction on letterhead, NREGS job card, Arms License, Pensioner card,  Freedom fighter card, Kissan passbook, CGHS / ECHS card, Certificate of address having photo issued by MP or MLA or Group ‘A’ gazetted officer on letterhead, Certificate of address issued by village panchayat head or its equivalent authority (for rural areas), Income Tax assessment order, Vehicle registration certificate, Registered sale / lease / rent agreement, Address card having photo issued by the Department of Posts,  Caste and Domicile Certificate having photo issued by the State Government

DoB proof (having name and DoB):

* Birth certificate, SSLC book / certificate, Passport, Certificate of Date of Birth issued by group ‘A’ gazetted officer on letterhead.

(Published 11 September 2011, 18:32 IST)

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