"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A 1984 Orwellian Nightmare - India's ID Plan

The Science Fiction Classic "Logan's Run".
The movie depicts a dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources are managed and maintained in equilibrium by simply killing everyone who reaches the age of thirty.  The Orwellian government would place an identification disc in the hands of the people.  When it turned from the color green to red they were killed.

Over 110 million Indians have reported to data-processing centers across the country to have their irises scanned and their fingerprints recorded.
  • The Home Ministry collects not only fingerprints and scans irises, but also collects sensitive information such as caste and religion, which it wants to use for "security purposes".

Once again Hollywood and Science Fiction comes to life as a Big Brother government policy.  This time it is a plan to provide each of India's 1.2 billion citizens with a unique Orwellian identification number to impose some efficiency on India's inept bureaucracy.

Opponents have said it is ripe for abuse. The government could use it to spy on its citizens and criminals could steal the data and create false identities reports The National.

Since the plan was launched in mid-2010, about 110 million Indians have been ordered to report to data-processing centers across the country to have their irises scanned and their fingerprints recorded.

The unique identification (UID) number that arrives in the mail a couple of months later can then be used to apply for welfare benefits and set up a bank account.
Holocaust survivor Sol Lurie shows his
Nazi Concentration Camp tattoo.
Today tattoos are no longer needed to
mark you for the government.
India is scanning millions of
people and organizing them into groups
by caste and religion.

A rival program from the Home Ministry collects not only fingerprints and irises, but also sensitive information such as caste and religion, which it wants to use for security purposes.  The Home Ministry, since it has only registered about 8 million citizens on its National Population Register (NPR).

The Data is used right now for Politics

The 1984 paranoia is not entirely misplaced. The NPR emerged out of a scheme in the early 1990s to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. More than 40,000 Bengali-speakers were later deported within a three-year period.

Many fear that the new data will be similarly used by parties - such as the ultra-right-wing Shiv Sena in Mumbai - that want to identify and remove migrant laborers from other states.

Identity Theft  -  "All it would take to steal someone's biometric identity is a photograph taken with a high-resolution camera or a fingerprint off a glass," said Sunil Abraham, of the Center for internet and Security in Bangalore.

"And once your biometric identity has been compromised, there is no way of re-securing it without surgery."

He points to the recent incident in which several thousand Israeli biometric identities were leaked on to the internet by Saudi hackers. Stolen identities could be used to frame individuals for crimes or set up bank accounts for money laundering.

"I can see a situation in which a black market for biometric identities emerges," said Mr Abraham.
(The National)

The government of India has scanned the irises of 110,000,000 people in the name of "National Security."

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