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Aadhaar isn’t progress – it’s dystopian and dangerous (blog.mozilla.org)
132 points by hackuser on May 27, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 223 comments



All: many commenters in this thread have violated the HN guidelines very badly. We ban accounts that do that, regardless of which side of a debate they take. Please post civilly and substantively, or not at all.

That includes not making insinuations about astroturfing and shills, unless you have evidence. Somebody merely disagreeing with you does not count as evidence.

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One of the big problems of Aadhar to me is the mandatory use. I understand the terrible problems of stolen benefits, and how the card could help.

But in a country as large, dispersed and disorganized as India, mandatory is a risk. Plenty of people will slip though the cracks and be unregistered. It works in a tiny country like Germany where it was built on top of other infrastructure (ID cards were introduced in the 1930s; other uses were introduced lated once they had become essentially ubiquitous).

In addition, the lesson of China is salutary: siblings (whose very existence violated the one child policy) were often not registered, and thus missed out on schooling and other benefits. The "hukou" system controlled who was allowed to work or travel -- and surely everyone can imagine a government trying to fight urban slums by prohibiting migration from the countryside (by denying benefits)?


How come you don't know that 99% adults have Aaadhaar in India at last count? Or if you knew still decided to raise this point.


I am suspicious of numbers like 99% especially given that the aadhaar scheme is only a few years old. Such statistics are always...messy and look at how hard it is to get other such statistics (vaccination numbers for example). India has an unusually good (by international standards) ability to get some of these mass efforts implemented (again, I'm thinking of vaccination push) but never this quickly.

In addition, such programs do well in areas of good communication, and are weaker in more remote areas and those with weaker educational systems. Which is not an India-specific issue. And it is those hard-to-count people who need the program the most. Also those people are in areas where the local officials are typically the most mendacious (which is why they are hard to reach)... you see the problem.

Sure, all my family in Mumbai and Pune have cards, no problem. A few out in the countryside....likely but it's not like I am close to them.

That was one of my points about it being mandatory: the very people it needs to help are the ones who will be last to get it.

BTW the other problem I mention, the instrument of control, is not addressed by your comment.

(Speaking of you comment: someone downvoted it, which (the down voting) doesn't make sense. Your comment was factual and non-inflammatory. I gave it an upvote because I don't like people down voting something just because they disagree with it)


But if we don't believe in any statistics what else is to debate?

That's the point I was bringing up, that there seems to me much conjecture and not much facts being brought up by Anti-Aadhaar lobby.

I think enrollment started in 2011 - so it's 6 years to get 99% coverage.

I don't think it's fair to bring in other statistics into this, because in this case all they have to do a SQL COUNT to get the number of enrolled. It's what they were supposed to do after all.

> In addition, such programs do well in areas of good communication, and are weaker in more remote areas and those with weaker educational systems. Which is not an India-specific issue. And it is those hard-to-count people who need the program the most. Also those people are in areas where the local officials are typically the most mendacious (which is why they are hard to reach)... you see the problem.

It's totally not like that. Sorry to say, but your comment sounds like you have never been to these areas, and are just conjecturing mentally. Please have a look at the enrolment infrastructure UIDAI specifically built to get to universal coverage. It's actually a good case study for other countries to learn from.

EDIT: don't care at all about downvotes.


Enrollment started in 2011 and people also got it via post in 2011.

Why do you think the people didn't supported the privacy activists for all these 5 years ?

Who are the people making disproportionate amount of noise (not signal) against Aadhar ?

Do they actually care about privacy? Hard to believe.

Do these people have vested interest in sustaining the corrupt middleman model ? Easy to believe.

If you had lost thousands of rupees because ( bribe money) because of Aadhar card of others, you would definitely make noise ( not signal ).


> Do they actually care about privacy? Hard to believe. Do these people have vested interest in sustaining the corrupt middleman model ? Easy to believe.

Are there people whose corrupt interests are impacted by Aadhar creating noise? Surely. Does that mean there are no legitimate concerns about such a program? Of course not. We're trying to discuss the latter here. I do not find you meaningfully contributing to that discussion, with the exception of your first post (in which you mention the benefits Aadhar brought your parents).

I mentioned elsewhere that centralized anti-corruption programs have a terrible track record for a reason. If you couldn't count on your institutions to prevent corruption, you cannot count on them to prevent abuse of power. Given that track record, a default position of scepticism is warranted.

India has a history of handing tremendous power to strong(wo)men, and suffering tremendously for it. Creating a tool that allows politicians to punish surgically-targeted swaths of political and/or economic opposition should be approached cautiously. Decrying any opposition to the program as the product of corrupt stooges is bad rhetoric at best, and corrosive to informed debate and the democratic process, within India and internationally, at worst.


> I mentioned elsewhere that centralized anti-corruption programs have a terrible track record for a reason. If you couldn't count on your institutions to prevent corruption, you cannot count on them to prevent abuse of power. Given that track record, a default position of scepticism is warranted.

This isn't an anti corruption program. Just an National Id like in any other country. And BM authentication to keep your data secure using consent driven architecture.

Astonishing how something even simple that would create such noise in India.


Where are you getting the 99% number? Any proof of that?


93% in 2015 according to UIDAI - http://www.firstpost.com/india/about-93-percent-of-adults-in...

99% in 2017 according to the the minister - http://www.thehindu.com/business/Aadhaar-covers-99-of-adults...

1.11+ B people

All this is easily googleable. I fail to understand why you and the OP wouldn't just check it before fear mongering.


All people criticising Aadhar for being insecure frankly don't have a real solution in place. Being an Indian citizen I know and have experienced benefit owing to Aadhar. I get subsidies from the government, one uniform identity that I can use to get important things.

Coming to the security part, which centralised biometric DB doesn't have risks. Social Security Number in the US is pretty similar. No one gets security right the first time and nothing is secure forever.

Mozilla being such a nice organisation with so many good initiatives. Why don't it come forward and dedicate some of its resources in helping out the Indian Government? Wouldn't that be better than just criticising without knowing any ground reality of how things operate in India?


The illogic in these arguments is astounding. Maybe I can simplify it for you with a few analogies.

>All people criticising Aadhar for being insecure frankly don't have a real solution in place.

Criticising something doesn't necessitate me to providing a solution. It's like saying all movie critics should be good actors.

>Being an Indian citizen I know and have experienced benefit owing to Aadhar. I get subsidies from the government, one uniform identity that I can use to get important things.

Sure aadhar might have some benefits for you. But the critique is raising many points which make it incredibly dangerous and harmful in the long run. It's like using steroids to gain muscle faster, which is very harmful in the long term.

>Coming to the security part, which centralised biometric DB doesn't have risks.

Yes and those systems do get criticised so it can be improved. Also, aadhar claims to be open source, open API, run by volunteers, none of which it is. It sells your data to private services. Were you going to address that point at all?

>Mozilla being such a nice organisation with so many good initiatives. Why don't it come forward and dedicate some of its resources in helping out the Indian Government?

Indian government has a lot of resources too. It's not exactly poor. It could do a good job if it wanted to. That's not what this criticism is about.

>Wouldn't that be better than just criticising without knowing any ground reality of how things operate in India?

How do you know the author doesn't know the ground reality of things in India?

Look, criticism of a system or policy serves to ignite debate on how best we can make improvements and move forward. Rather than being snarky and getting all defensive and making silly illogical arguments, how about you contribute to the discussion by addressing the points raised in the article?


Forgive me if I'm mistaken but it does sound like you are writing from a position of extreme privilege.

Poor Indians trying to get benefits but having those benefits taken is a life threatening crisis for those impoverished individuals and families. It is entirely forgivable for those families to ignore the "long term consequences" when the short term consequence is losing the meager benefits they have to corruption. Your argument is like arguing that chemotherapy will ruin your body when the patient is dying of cancer.

If their system can stamp out widespread corruption in exchange for some loss of privacy, the cure is not worse than the disease. The technically minded in wealthy countries should consider helping by proposing a better solution, rather than criticizing measures borne from true desperation.


Doesn't matter what position I'm speaking from. Can you argue against my points? Of course, poor and desperate people will take whatever benefits are given them despite how damaging they will be in the long term. Your chemo analogy doesn't hold water here because chemo actually is better in the long term - you don't have to keep doing it once your cancer is cured. This is more akin to acquiring cancer on purpose to cure a cold.


I'm arguing from pragmatism, not moral idealism.

If your theory of privacy doesn't account for how poor desperate people will happily trade privacy for survival and provide a better option, privacy will simply lose, over and over again. If the best you can do is "this is wrong, giving up privacy is like cancer", privacy is just doomed. Privacy is already losing everywhere. You'll have to come up with a technical solution that actually meets people's felt needs.


I don't think we're arguing about the same thing. I never said (and neither did the article) that we shouldn't use systems like these. What I am criticising is the Indian govt. selling off the data and not taking privacy into account.

BTW, this is not just an idealistic point we're arguing for. This is long-term pragmatism. Majority of the people will always go for short-term gains, this is well known.


Don't play the privilage card now every body's privacy is at stake.


I would have been fine with Aadhar if

- They didn't rely on fingerprints, as they are easy to fake, without a high degree of technical sophistication

- There would not be an API for commercial services

I just want the government to be able to provide its services smoothly. I don't want random startups leaking or selling everyone's data.


You do understand that it doesn't only rely on fingerprints, right? There is retinal verification in addition to phone OTP. I had another phone number when I got Aadhar, I changed the city, lost my phone number and now there is no way, I can without physically getting somewhere and submitting the application to update my phone number.

API for commercial services isn't a bad thing per se. A lot of time, it would save time in documentation. Btw, if you have such a privacy concern, Are you not using Facebook, Whatsapp and all other services for free that sell you data, you behaviour to commercial companies.

It's really easy to believe the FUD going on and coming up some original ideas on how to tackle the problem. I hope you are in the second group that would help make our Country a better place to live in.


But using Facebook and other websites is a choice. Using Aadhar is not a choice - its mandatory.


How do you suggest in a country of fucking Billion people you would get people to use something? 40% people don't understand shit, doesn't care about privacy, they want food on their table, they want to get the money they rightfully earn. These people are less fortunate than many of us. With Aadhar and Household gas linked, they get the subsidy rightly in their bank account without paying every fucking agent that would loot them at any possible point.

I agree, making it mandatory for "Income Tax" is bit controversial. But even you also know how many people in India, rightfully pay taxes. The percentage is pretty damn low.

And frankly using Facebook and Twitter is not really a choice. It's a result of being Socially coerced into being on one of the platforms to not feel left out. And anyone who talks about privacy and openness would never be on either of these two if he really knows what he talks about.


Just a question to you. I can understand the problems faced by bribery and it being eradicated but how according to your argument can the person who is illiterate understand about privacy or for that matter things he/she is not expert in? To elaborate it is not the responsibility of the illiterates or the people who are not knowledgeable to worry about the privacy. Instead it is the responsibility of the people implementing the system to make sure that all security and privacy is implemented and also the laws to be introduced to protect the common man.

This is the very reason the government has think tanks and expert advisors. It seems all these people have failed. When the system fails completely then again it is these same poor common man who will face the brunt presently seen or unseen.


Just from last week: CCC managed to break IRIS recognition system by holding a printout of a HD photo in front of a camera.

[0]: https://www.ccc.de/en/updates/2017/iriden


Yes, I am aware. But this hack didn't existed when Aadhar was provisioned, and many institutions in the world use Iris recognition. Does this mean everyone in the world will stop using Iris recognition or push a patch to fix the vulnerability?


>API for commercial services isn't a bad thing per se. A lot of time, it would save time in documentation. Btw, if you have such a privacy concern, Are you not using Facebook, Whatsapp and all other services for free that sell you data, you behaviour to commercial companies.

So you mean to say that its cool to leak my whole family tree data along with AADHAR and PHONE NUMBER to the public? So a novice can know about my sister via Dark net and can use that piece of information?

>Implying I am using Facebook. >Implying Zuck is forcing you to hand out your fingerprints and shit for better services. >Implying you can't get SIM without having a Facebook ID.

>I hope you are in the second group that would help make our Country a better place to live in.

Tell me one way AADHAR is making this country a better place and I will counter that challenge without implementing AADHAR.


1) There is no real reliable proof of a leak yet. 2) Remember all your fancy iPhones, Macbooks and Pixel etc. having fingerprint sensors. You 100% sure none of these would/could be leaked. Why the hypocritical attack on just one thing?

Out of various things, just one thing: My maid got her account opened for free due to Jan Dhan scheme. The only document required was Aadhar which she had due to a massive drive to enrol people in Aadhar. Now, She got a gas connection without much fuss and all the govt. subsidy gets directly deposited to her bank account. I too give her monthly due via NEFT. All her money goes directly to the deserving place without ever bribing anyone. If it's not making this country a better place for these people, I don't now what is?


>> They didn't rely on fingerprints, as they are easy to fake, without a high degree of technical sophistication

Aadhar provides multiple levels of security, Number > Fingerprint > Iris >= OTP / Two-Factor. Finally fingerprints are not as easy to fake, even if they are faked depending on deployment a system can randomly ask for higher level of authentication such as iris or OTP. By having these multiple authentication methods its easier to tune the system for fraud detection vs ease-of-use. I can understand why the government is not publicizing all the anti-fraud measures since its always a game of cat & mouse.

>> There would not be an API for commercial services

This makes no sense, in USA the SSN is typically shared with thousands of services, landlords, apps. In fact the API has potential to open up secure commerce and break the MasterCard/Visa duopoly.


What if a guy was in a crime scene with my fingerprints all over it? Because he got that data from AADHAR data base and used it to carry out that crime,meanwhile I was on the vicinity having a good time in a restaurant with no CCTV camera?

Who will prove my innocence?


Dont you think that in your above scenario the possible aquisition of your fingerprints are by far the most trivial aspect.


1) Fingerprints are harder to fake than what's being used currently - signatures and xerox

2) Fine. Don't authenticate with Aadhaar when you go to get a commercial service. Why force you choice on me?

And the info they get is name/dob/gender. Which they would anyway have - Aadhaar or no Aadhaar - since you are their customer.

Please think through it.


> Fingerprints are harder to fake than what's being used currently - signatures and xerox

Yes, but once compromised they cannot be changed. Also, could you state clearly whether fingerprints would be used for authentication or identification?

> Fine. Don't authenticate with Aadhaar when you go to get a commercial service. Why force you choice on me?

Right back at you. I may have a choice when using a commercial service but why is the government forcing me to have an Aadhaar if I never intend to use it?

> And the info they get is name/dob/gender. Which they would anyway have - Aadhaar or no Aadhaar - since you are their customer.

Yes but they cannot build a profile of me using things like income bracket (pan linking), travel information (rail and air travel linking), social and family ties (various other ways). If you think this isn't even plausible in India, either you have skin in the game or are being (/ intentionally trying to be) incredibly naive.


> Right back at you. I may have a choice when using a commercial service but why is the government forcing me to have an Aadhaar if I never intend to use it?

Mostly only if you want subsidies. If you are talking about the PAN linkage, you are already required to have PAN. Is that forcing you as well? That way you can even refuse to follow any regulation, arguing that goverment is forcing you. We don't live in an anarchy. If you don't like Aadhaar go vote for some party which will revoke it come next election. If can't do it, maybe think about changing countries.

> Yes but they cannot build a profile of me using things like income bracket (pan linking), travel information (rail and air travel linking), social and family ties (various other ways). If you think this isn't even plausible in India, either you have skin in the game or are being (/ intentionally trying to be) incredibly naive.

This kinds of profiles can be built using system like Palantair, Aadhaar or no Aaadhaar. Using just Name/DOB/Address can be decent enough identifier. And we already have PAN mandated for high value transactions. Opposing Aadhaar on these grounds, seems extremely silly to me.

Again, I am not connected with Aadhaar at all. Not want clicks like some people on this thread. Just a concerned citizen who wants to see technology help the poor/needy.

EDIT

> Yes, but once compromised they cannot be changed. Also, could you state clearly whether fingerprints would be used for authentication or identification?

Identity Authentication, because you identify yourself using the Aadhaar number, then prove it by authenticating.

Yes they can't be changed. But since there's an audit trails + you need an insider@service-provider to pass the stolen BM to server, those who try would be easily caught. With signatures/xerox there's no audit trails or instant notification. That's much more insecure if you look at it dispassionately.

Many people are not understanding Aadhaar is being used for stuff like bank accounts, food grain etc where this is acceptable.

Alternative like signatures, smart-cards, passwords etc wouldn't work in a country like India.


Where exactly is data leaked ?

All the news you hear about Aadhar privacy are fake .


> which centralised biometric DB doesn't have risks. Social Security Number in the US is pretty similar.

There are no biometrics associated with Social Security. It's just an ID number.


>I get subsidies from the government, one uniform identity that I can use to get important things.

Yes the government is holding your benifits hostage in order to force you to register for aadhar. This is not an inherit advantage of aadhar.


Benefits Hostage? Are You kidding me? We earlier used to get those benefits as well. But it was all paper based, prone to be caught in the web of middlemen.

It's an incentive from govt to get people to register for Aadhar to get better/faster service without us common citizens to get exploited by the middleman. I don't see anything wrong in that.



Who has power to abuse in unique identification system (aadhaar) - individual or state? State.

Where does the state in questions stand in corruption ratings, human development index ? very low.

(Looking up in internet) Latest use of aadhar seems to be in mobile internet via Jio telecom - they've used aadhar as identification. How is this not dystopian ? with most of country relying on mobile internet alone and state knowing their entire web activity - how is not dystopian?

Going by a similar analogy - Should a US citizen use SSN to get a home-worker-robot from a private company like (Google,SpaceX) to help with all daily chores ? BIG NO

India has also been known for its infamous caste society (read prejudice) for few millenia - will unique identification help eradicate or increase the problem further ? can anybody explain which applies here and how ?

Although I am not against having an unique ID for citizens in a country. Such systems will become easy tools for few powerful. We so often get rants in HN about facebook(and others) abusing privacy (listening to audio, tracking most of our web browsing).

How is with aadhar and facts above help prevent a state or private-company or mix-of-both-them not become big brother ?

edit: removed a sentence which got repeated.


> (Looking up in internet) Latest use of aadhar seems to be in mobile internet via Jio telecom - they've used aadhar as identification. How is this not dystopian ? with most of country relying on mobile internet alone and state knowing their entire web activity - how is not dystopian?

Aadhaar has nothing to do with you web activity. It's used as KYC - Know your Customer - for getting the JIO connection. It's optional, and as an alternative you can submit a xerox of any ID documents for your KYC. Most european countries require an ID document to get a mobile connection as well - Italy for example.

> Going by a similar analogy - Should a US citizen use SSN to get a home-woker-robot from a private company like (Google,SpaceX) to help with all daily chores ? BIG NO

More apt analogy would be that should a US citizen use SSN to to get a bank account at Citibank? BIG YES

> India has also been known for its infamous caste society (read prejudice) for few millenia - will unique identification help eradicate or increase the problem further ? can anybody explain which applies here and how ?

That has nothing to do with Aadhaar so I would ignore it.

> Where does the state in questions stand in corruption ratings, human development index ? very low.

It's also one of the freest countries in Asia according to Freedom House, and has robust institutions. It's the world's biggest democracy for 70 years now - during which western countries like Spain and Portugal were rules by dictators.

Please keep you condescending attitude to yourself. Indias are well informed to make an informed choice in this matter, and they have.

EDIT IN RESPONSE TO YOUR EDIT:

> How is with aadhar and facts above help prevent a state or private-company or mix-of-both-them not become big brother ?

Because Mister it's only used for KYC. Aadhaar system only stores a few attributes - Name/DOB/gender/address-if-available. That's data every goverment in this world keeps of its citizens. Do you understand now how you and Mozilla are fear mongering?


> Aadhaar has nothing to do with you web activity. It's used as KYC - Know your Customer - for getting the JIO connection. It's optional, and as an alternative you can submit a xerox of any ID documents for your KYC.

You forgot to mention that if you take xerox you will be charged 200 rs and a delay of at-least a week and if you provide Aadhaar you will get almost immediately.

"Also JIO will not use Aadhaar for spying on users browsing activity" is based on trust and not by design. Not everyone trusts Reliance or any corporation because it is run by many people and one human is sufficient to abuse.


>> It's used as KYC - Know your Customer - for getting the JIO connection

Ok, I am Jio SIM company. So I have your aadhar KYC or a xerox of your aadhar card as well. How as a citizen, can you trust me (a private company) to not pass your web activity to state. eg: say you are an NGO using JIO sim and is working for getting rid of big corruption in state. How will you ensure my company and state will not track your every web activity ? It all sounds familiar when you know privacy concerns of Chinese humanitarians - read great firewall of internet.

>> It's the world's biggest democracy for 70 years now.

How does being biggest in numbers help in democracy ? Democracy is pretty old my friend. 70 years is again a very small age in democracy.


> It all sounds familiar when you know privacy concerns of Chinese humanitarians - read great firewall of internet.

That has nothing to do wit Aadhaar or India. All European nations require an ID to get a mobile connection. That risk would exist in any country Aadhaar or no Aadhaar. What's your point?

> How does being biggest in numbers help in democracy ? Democracy is pretty old my friend. 70 years is again a very small age in democracy.

Mister because it show the strength of democratic institutions and freedom in a country. Even when compared to richer european nations like Spain/Portugal. Please look at freedom house rating for asian nations before being so condescending.


I have worked in two Western European countries and none required me to provide any Id lest alone unique id.

As I see you are doing BS.


> As I see you are doing BS.

This violates the HN guidelines. Please edit such incivility out of your comments here. Your first sentence was just fine.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> https://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187768-c5431/Italy:Sim.C...

> Purchasing a SIM in Italy requires presentation of proper identification, such as valid passport or European ID card

This conversation just illustrate the quality of arguments Anti Aadhaar lobby has in this thread.


One thing I find frustrating in these arguments about Aadhaar is that the people defending it seem to align themselves by political affiliation.

People have to remember that even if the present government has good intentions and the PM is doodh ka dhulla (translation: incorruptible), Governments do not last but these programs will and if there is a way to exploit something at this scale, you better bet it some government (if not today's) will.


Aadhaar is one of those programs which is a solution looking for a problem, at huge cost of privacy, security and government surveillance. See https://rethinkaadhaar.in/myths/


Agreed but even most of the very literate ones does not understand the implication. Everyone is so gung-ho about having a single identity tied back to bio-metric data that highlighting the privacy concerns and historical misuse have no effect.


And its not even historical misuse.

Aadhar has been abused in the present, the government has lied about its purpose over its entire existence and has directly abused SC instructions.

The AG for the govt has gone on and said that Indian's don't have a right to privacy in court, and their numbers don't hold up to scrutiny.

This has all happened in the present, none of what I have said is even exaggeration, it's actually happened.

The iSpirit guy was caught, publicly, creating a troll army to abuse Pro Privacy supporters.

Its insane. Do not expect the people fighting for aadhar to ever stop supporting it.

Aadhar is their hero, it ushers in a new age for India - any one who fights against this new age is misguided at best, or an enemy of progress at worst.

Its absurd.


I am in the wait and watch camp. So far aadhar has shown promise and benefits. I am also in the "make it compulsory for income tax" group. For privacy, they will get their act together I hope (plug leakages if any). If they don't, it would be foolish for them to think that we won't come after them. I have faith in the current generation. The activation energy maybe high but boy do they protest when they do :)


> I am also in the "make it compulsory for income tax" group.

I don't get this ! What exactly is this linkage solving ? Additionally everyone who advocates this disregards the fact that there are Non-resident Indians who are required to pay taxes but they are not entitled to an Aadhaar card and resident non-Indians who also need to pay taxes who are not required to get an Aadhaar card.

Additionally, how exactly is the deduplication of the PAN database happening ? (ie: who is doing this and what information do they have access to ? eg: is it a private entity who would also benefit from knowing tax income slabs for analytics ?? ...do you really want your service providers insurance/health care/ISP/grocery provider to know the income tax slab you fit in ?)


I think the Income Tax department can do the dedup themselves right? Seems easy, no different pan cards can have the same aadhar number?

Income tax records are protected by very strict laws already.


...they could but are they doing it ? Do you know whom to ask ? Do you know whether you even have the right to ask these questions and get an answer ? ...and if you get the answer that they are not doing it and instead a private entity will handle it, will you have a choice to not link your PAN card to Aadhaar ?


If I can't believe that they are following the law, my data is already public. I remember there was a debate sometime back where income tax info was needed to decide whether you qualify for certain subsidies or not and there was no way to get the income tax data even for the govt (different dept).

Income tax aadhar linkage should not be optional in the same way paying taxes isn't (in my opinion). I mean only 10-2000000 above with more than 1000000 rs income (declared). That's just disgusting.


These comments demonstrate how patriotism can affect ones rational and objective thinking.

There are understandably benefits and convenience, however the articles focus is not that. It highlights the inherent threats to citizens individual freedoms that has somehow been missed by commentators.


Nationalism, not patriotism. The latter is fine, the former is a bloody cancer.


Contrary is also true. How fear mongering and condescending attitude towards others can make you delusional to not see the facts in plain sight.


It sounds and looks really bad, but, India currently is so desperate to ridicule corruption that it's going to any lengths possible, which includes invading people's privacy. Now, I don't know if that's the right thing to do.


I recently made a trip to India; just a week earlier me and a few friends were talking about driver less cars, automation, AI etc.(you know the usual SV talking points) When I landed there all this futuristic talk flew out of my head; it is a very different world out there.

I am reminded of this feeling, because this author sits in his/her nice comfy office in Mountain View mouthing off on something with no understanding of ground realities; to me this is absurd. When I say reality, I mean actually living there. Taj Mahal selfies and elephant rides are not counted :)

Does anyone care about privacy in India as much as they do in the US? I seriously doubt it. Let's be real, most of us (Indians in the US) did not even know what privacy meant and we don't really care about it. If we did, we wouldn't be posting on FB, Twitter, Instagram etc. or signing up for a time share presentation just to get a 3 day hotel stay ;)


Most Indian's, wouldn't care about a constitution, demonstrably don't care about sanitation, and are easily sidelined by superstition.

Yet, they try every day - to over come that with whatever tools and education in front of them.

MANY people in India, aside from the brigade yelling "efficiency and progress", do not value efficiency and progress.

So they do care, and will definitely care once they realize they were sold a bum dream.


> demonstrably don't care about sanitation, and are easily sidelined by superstition.

Exactly, thanks for making my point. There are such fundamental problems in India that privacy laws are the least of the layman's problems.

Do you seriously think someone who doesn't have basic ameneties (that we take for granted) cares about this? Get real, they don't.


Why do you think Ambedkar made the constitution with the protections he did?

Why did Gandhi fight for dignity and freedom at the same time.

A country is not its GDP, the GDP is valuable because it serves the country.

You deeply underestimate the intelligence and drive of the people, as well as the protections people need.

Do you think all these people in the west don't see this? See this math on privacy vs efficiency? They do. And they've seen what it does, and it's been bad enough that it's been burnt into them through generations.


We agree to disagree.

> Do you think all these people in the west don't see this? See this math on privacy vs efficiency? They do. And they've seen what it does, and it's been bad enough that it's been burnt into them through generations.

I won't be using the people in the "West" as a benchmark to determine what is right or wrong. There are equally dumb, superstitious people in the West as they are in India. Source: [0][1][2][3][4][5] and many many more...

[0] https://today.yougov.com/news/2016/12/27/belief-conspiracies... [1] http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2011/PPP_Release_Nati... [2] http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/18710759/kyrie-irving-cle... [3] https://www.adl.org/education/resources/backgrounders/militi... [4] http://www.newsweek.com/what-does-alt-right-movement-want-52... [5] http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/senate-dems-block-sanctuar...


I'm sorry, but my rights are not up for your disagreement or discussion.

Wait sanctuary cities ? What does that have to do with anything? Conspiracy theories? The alt right...?

What?

This isn't even an argument, it's a bunch of links and assertions which have no theme other than "look bad", the same way a caveman would point at a furnace and a campfire and say "look fire".

There's a specific narrow import and meaning to my sentence, and it is the specific and narrow context of how they have seen and value privacy because of the historical context they came out of.

It's not a statement that they are magically perfect in all context.

By symmetry if you expand the remit to include every ounce of stupidity committed by people in the west, we in India will crush them outright.

Just a few days ago the govt effectively outlawed cattle slaughter, including buffaloes as part of the prevention of cruelty to animals, but they left out pigs, goats, and chickens. Not to mention fish.

And this is the a very pro development government. Forget the shenanigans of the people.

If you open the field to bringing up superstition and bad governance in the west, the saying "people in glass houses should not throw stones" comes to mind.


> By symmetry if you expand the remit to include every ounce of stupidity committed by people in the west, we in India will crush them outright.

Yeah right. You have a very rosy picture of how people are in the West. I've lived in 3 countries, there are stupid people everywhere. It's not an exclusive domain of India.

> value privacy because of the historical context they came out of.

What historical context?

I got no issues with the Aadhar card, so I'm staying put. Why don't you stop trolling, drop your smartphone/computer and instead go out there to make a difference.


Its unsurprising that there can be no civil conversation on this topic on HN.

The tech sphere in India is divided into straight up optimizers, for whom things like privacy are an impediment to the progress of the nation. Said progress will make everyone's lives better, so it must progress.

These are the majority of coders that seem to be in the Indian sphere.

In sharp contrast, are the people currently fighting Aadhar in the Supreme court, who believe that privacy is the fundament of a nation in the first place. That without privacy you cannot have a democracy.

And this is just online, what actually happens between the closed doors of power is utterly bereft of what normal American HN crowd would consider civil liberties and human rights.

For those who actually control the system, losses and inaccuracy in aadhar are the same as errors in banking transactions. As long as theres a X sigma error rate, they don't care.


The entire article's argument of breach of privacy hinges on the claim that "the government of India is selling access to this database to private companies to use and combine with other datasets as they wish". Is there any substantial evidence of this of broad statement?

On the whole, pretty disappointed in this article from Mozilla.


> Is there any substantial evidence of this of broad statement?

Even if this hasn't happened yet, Are there any measures in place to keep this from happening?... Ever... Irrespective of the party in power?

The current government does not even want to acknowledge the possibility let alone describe the checks and measures put in place to avoid it from happening.


Aadhaar per se is quite harmless. It is pretty much what Estonia has been doing for the past 25 years with no ill effects. Quite in contrary. The question is privacy: we have a strong personal privacy law and are moving to make things more transparent all the time. People do care about this. Whether that's the case in India and to what extent, is up to Indians to say.

Ehat I find outrageous is that Cambridge Analytica can assemble a full profile of everybody in the country and it's just progress. But, god forbid, the government institutes an identifier to provide better services!


I'm all for aadhaar but I'd like to know who has access to my information and why did they get it. Also If possible I'd like to have a degree of control over it. Also I'd like to know how they secure it without using a bunch of PR terms.

These are all valid questions raised by that article but could have done a better job of explaining these problems and its implications.


You can ask aadhaar to dispatch notifications to you every time an authentiction happens.

Non govt agencies need your consent to get your data, if you don't want that just don't authenticate.

The article suggests that government is selling your data to private companies, which is such a big misrepresentation I wonder how Mozilla let its name be used for it. Do they not care for their reputation anymore?

Private companies can access your data only if you give them you consent by authenticating, and all they get is name/dob/gender/address-if-avialable. Which they would have anyways since you are their customer - mobile provider, bank etc.

There should be an overarching privacy law in India covering disclosure, insurance, etc; but that's a separate debate.


Right, and them getting that it self is a huge change in the Aadhar act

Aadhar was originally sold as just an ack this number matches those finger prints.

Now in the 2016 act, it provides all those details. All of which are enough to determine your religion, caste and more.

The issue is not about the tech, it is about trust and about rights.

None of which are directly responsible for increasing GDP, just the same way GDP is not responsible for making the difference between being a bunch of companies and being a nation.


KYC was a part of Aadhaar from day one.

I assume you are implying someone can determine your religion, caste and more by using your name.

If you signup for a bank account or a mobile company, they would have your name/dob in any case - Aadhaar or No-Aadhaar. Like in any other country on this planet.

This isn't textbook definition of causing FUD? And it's shocking that Mozilla is at forefront of it.

Also, using buzzwords like "trust", "rights" doesn't augment your arguments, if it's missing a coherent rational structure.


Sorry, court documents and legislature say otherwise.

There's a problem with banks as well, but they are private bodies which are not in the business of exercising power.

Is your bank responsible for your peacekeeping and policing ? It is not.

You misunderstand the stakes here, this is the house on fire and someone is mildly saying "oh that's a terrible idea"

Accusations of lack of rationality are valid when you have the locus standii proven by base knowledge of subject matter. Your various assertions here and in other parts of the thread do not suggest that

But if you cn prove that those words do not augment the argument I'll concede.

So how is this not a matter of rights and trust. Please demonstrate.


> Is your bank responsible for your peacekeeping and policing ? It is not.

So you are fine with the bank having your name/dob/gender. But don't want the government to have it?

In case you don't know, govt already knows these attributes about you. Birth certificates, passports, PAN for high value transactions. FUD.

> Accusations of lack of rationality are valid when you have the locus standii proven by base knowledge of subject matter. Your various assertions here and in other parts of the thread do not suggest that

Oh, I think I do! Along with overwhelming majority of a billion+ Indians who are very happy using Aadhaar, doing millions of transactions each day, and want the program further expanded.

> So how is this not a matter of rights and trust. Please demonstrate.

That is for you to demonstrate, since it's your argument. Not me! Hence I said devoid of rational arguments.


I have an issue with all privacy norms in the country at the moment. I would want far more stringent norms in place.

I definitely relatively less issue with a private entity than a govt.

The Govt is in the business of making laws and exercising power over me. The business I can chose.

The govt in turn controls the laws which control the business.

If the Govt gives no care, then for sure - the business will not either.

Therefore, Govt control and behavior is paramount. Next is private.

The fact that the Govt controls these things without biometrics over multiple different databases is OK.

The fact that aadhar is

1) a biometric data base (and biometrics I decry in particular)

2) which is being used to unify all databases

3) including things which it is not supposed to,

4) with the architecture underlying Aadhar

5) while removing all options to opt out

6) For demonstrably false gains (the AP results, their false reduction in costs claims)

Are immediate and clear over step of Govt power over Citizen rights.

This over step creates the levers and mechanism for the Govt to influence and control citizens at a scale at which our laws and constitution are not designed to protect.

Even now - there is no law for privacy, and the govt has claimed that we have no ultimate right over our bodies, or that there is any right to privacy.

These are not FUD as you keep claiming, but fact.

Let me bold that for you -

The GOVERNMENT OF INDIA HAS SAID TO THE SUPREME COURT THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE A FINAL RIGHT TO YOUR BODY AND YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY RIGHT TO PRIVACY.

These are fundamentally true - there is no framework for privacy in India.

I would like to see a framework which prevents companies from compiling surnanmes or caste information, or bundling address information and other such data into lists which can be used.

This data should fundamentally be blocked and broken up, without ability to be connected easily.

People who do create such lists should be worried, not resting easy.

> Oh, I think I do! Along with overwhelming majority of a billion

And Ancient Rome thought Lead vessels were the best vessels.

The fact is that a majority of Indians do not know what the constitution is, what their protections are, and do not have recourse to it.

However - when Indians do learn their rights, they value them and fight for them.

It is instead people like you - who sell their rights for cheap pennies, who are considered craven, and who they despise.

Do not go around attributing that billion+ to anything when you have no proof.

As it stands, more evidence of the utter failure of aadhar to achieve its ends keeps being brought up.

> That is for you to demonstrate, since it's your argument

I state that it is a matter of my right to privacy and trust in governance. I state it is so, and for evidence bring forward the Case of Aadhar and Privacy currently being studied by the Supreme Court of India.

The SC of India, is a far higher and learned body than you, and if they consider the case to be a matter of the right to Privacy, then it is so legally.

Now please, show me how Aadhdar is not about Rights and Trust.


> 1) a biometric data base (and biometrics I decry in particular)

true

> 2) which is being used to unify all databases

false. And also FUD. PAN can be used for more tacking that Aadhaar.

> 3) including things which it is not supposed to,

false, strictly what's mandated by parliament in the Aadhaar bill. In a democracy parliament is suprement, not some privacy-wallahs.

> 4) with the architecture underlying Aadhar

not relevant to argument

> 5) while removing all options to opt out

true, so? It's mandated by parliament. It's like a mandatory tax ID.

6) For demonstrably false gains (the AP results, their false reduction in costs claims)

false

Bottom line, Aadhaar is just like any other ID or Tax ID, and no amount of disinformation will change that. It stores and 4 attribues about you name/dob/gender/address and two biometrics.

Biometrics actually make the system more secure, since it's driven by a biometric based consent driven architecture with stuff like instant notifications whenever you data is assessed. Only you can allow who accesses these 4 attributes by authenticating via biometrics or by OTP.

It's mandated by the parliament. If you don't like it, please try to get a party in power which would dismantle it next time. If that doesn't happen I'm afraid the only other option for you is to move.

> The fact is that a majority of Indians do not know what the constitution is, what their protections are, and do not have recourse to it.

> It is instead people like you - who sell their rights for cheap pennies, who are considered craven, and who they despise.

Another example of the quality of demeaning discourse peddled by Anti-Aadhaar lobby.

But doesn't matter. As long as the overwhelming majority of billion+ Indians keeps backing Aadhaar and keep on doing millions of transactions everyday, all this online FUD wouldn't count for anything.


? > false. And also FUD. PAN can be used for more tacking that Aadhaar.

But pan isn't being used - difference between can do and doing.

> false, strictly what's mandated by parliament in the Aadhaar bill. In a democracy parliament is suprement, not some privacy-wallahs.

Proof? Supreme court is hearing case because Government broke the law.

Proof of your assertion?

>true, so? It's mandated by parliament. It's like a mandatory tax ID.

Infringes on my right to privacy, while not doing anything to help the country.

>6) For demonstrably false gains (the AP results, their false reduction in costs claims) >false

Proof?

You make loots of claims, but don't have anything to back it up.

All of the things I have claimed are true. You just say false.

I am happy to listen and read any links you have which show your position as true.


Replace aadhar with SSN and this would still (mostly) hold true. The only difference is biometric backin in aadhar. Silly PR


I don't really have a pony in this race, but logically, there is a difference. There are strict government laws in place to protect SSN information, such laws do not exist (apparently) in India regarding Aadhar. I don't think the argument is (mostly) about having a national ID, but about the lack of privacy of that information. Of course biometrics are bad in another way... If one needed to, you could change an ID number, you can't change your fingerprints


Social Security Number in the US pre-dates the internet and any concerns people had about privacy. People used to include it on their pre-printed personal checks along with their name and address.

SSNs don't even have a checksum to detect typos, nor any convenient mechanism to issue a replacement number if one is compromised.

Using the security flaws of the SSN implementation to justify security flaws in any modern identity system is just not rational. If anything it shows that people didn't learn from history.


Back when Social Security was first being put in place, there was a lot of concern that SSN's would become a "national Identification Number", and there were laws put in place to prevent this. However, said laws were largely ignored and SSN was pretty frequently used for all kinds of non-governmental purposes. In the last decade or so, there has been a renewed concern about SSN due to identity theft, and PII or Personally Identifying Information. It's now highly discouraged for anyone to store SSN numbers, although they can be still be collected for certain things like opening bank accounts and what not to prove citizenship, as well as to report to the IRS.

IMO the IRS should not be using SSN's for identification. But i'm not sure what else they can use.


Generally I agree, but ...

> Social Security Number in the US pre-dates the internet and any concerns people had about privacy.

People in the US were concerned about privacy long before the Internet. The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution dates back to the 18th century, for example.

In fact, I'd say people are much less concerned about privacy in the Internet era; they put everything online and happily give private info to corporations and government.


The fact is that having an SSN and the person's name can be enough to literally take his identity and do whatever you want.

Or literally get a birth certificate and become a "US citizen".

It's a bit more complicated, but not impossible, to do that in the UK, Belgium and Germany as well. Probably other countries, too.

So you're all crying about India being dystopian while your own ID systems are completely fucked.


The amount of people calling FUD is amazing.

Let's first talk about the implementation: How many cards do we have in India specially for ID purposes? PAN for taxes, Raashan card for food grains and subsidies are the two names I can think of from the gamut of ids. Now a person needs Aadhar to literally do everything not including taxes and subsidies. Why is that? Isn't it enough that people kowtow to babus to get their other cards that we now need this? People praising direct benefits, was it not possible using raashan card? If your answer is well they could be fakes? Then wake up to the fact that there can be fake Aadhar cards too.

Second, lets talk about privacy. Fine there is a new card. Why do they need iris scans and finger prints? What is the need? That too in a government infrastructure which is surely not protecting it properly - http://www.livemint.com/Industry/73F92SKvUKxyngjfx7O0aJ/UIDA...

UIDAI said this: “It is an isolated case of an employee working with a bank’s Business Correspondent company making an attempt to misuse his own biometrics which was detected by UIDAI internal security system and subsequently actions under the Aadhaar Act have been initiated,” according to a statement by UIDAI. (http://www.livemint.com/Politics/poeRx6xesHcUn6WpOJuJjN/Aadh...)

So it is a system which can be compromised by a motivated employee? What was the benefit again? Oh right stamping out corruption. Lets see how long that lasts.

I have refused to get Aadhar card because I don't want to share my biometric data. Many say what is wrong if you have or never going to do something wrong. I refer to you: "Don’t confuse privacy with secrecy. I know what you do in the bathroom, but you still close the door. That’s because you want privacy, not secrecy." (https://medium.com/@FabioAEsteves/i-have-nothing-to-hide-why...)

I never wanted one because I am not opting for subsidies by choice. I earn enough and pay my taxes on time. But this forced choice of filing returns only using Aadhar has left me no choice.

And for the tinfoils out there. About some kind of conspiracy about the timing. Same could be said about Aadhar. What is the reason government is rejecting people's concern and supreme court directive of not making this mandatory? If some kind of foreign money is involved is the logic here, same could be said about Nandan Nilekani and his private company which started this all.


Ration card. Literally - used to be used for parents and grand parents to stand in line and get their weekly ration.


> Second, lets talk about privacy. Fine there is a new card. Why do they need iris scans and finger prints? What is the need? That too in a government infrastructure which is surely not protecting it properly - http://www.livemint.com/Industry/73F92SKvUKxyngjfx7O0aJ/UIDA....

For the same reason a bank requires your signature. To authenticate you. But in India because we still have some illiteracy signatures won't do. That's why it uses Biometrics. This didn't come to your mind? Does it not reflect poorly on you?

> So it is a system which can be compromised by a motivated employee? What was the benefit again? Oh right stamping out corruption. Lets see how long that lasts.

Mister, in the alternative system - signature/xerox - there's no audit trail. So anyone with a pen paper can forge you signature for example. With Aadhaar you at least get notification anytime authentication happens.

You seem to believe that those who have built Aadhaar, haven't thought through all this, while you can. Classic case of arm chair analyst I may assume from you arguments.

> People praising direct benefits, was it not possible using raashan card? If your answer is well they could be fakes? Then wake up to the fact that there can be fake Aadhar cards too.

How exactly would you fake BM to get an extra Aadhaar card? Make an fake eye in a lab, and get someone at enrollment center to register that?

The problem with ration cards was that not only fakes, but also that they were not well organized sructured at all. Have you every walked into a tehsildar's office?


Wow are you for real? The amount of passive aggressive-ness in the post is through the roof. I am not sure I can get into a conversation with someone who can only thinking of attacking people.


Mister, I just made a point by point rebuttal to the obvious and glaring flaws in your arguments. If you can't stand when someone does that to you, I apologise.


Without privacy there is no democracy. Law for privacy should be established.


Does anyone know what sort of data they collect on people to identify them? One reason I ask is that I wonder how such a system could be used to provide a "scientific" answer as to what caste a person belongs. That would obviously be a little worrisome if it were possible.


You have surname data, and also given address.

On top of it this data is often found floating around in many unguarded excel files all over the web.

Its trivially easy to break people into caste buckets.


What the fuck is this bullshit system?


i get it. big brother is watching us. now im going to eat my pizza. big brother can watch if he likes.


you eat pizza, li'l brother. just don't play with my toys, or do anything you like but i don't. sooner or later, i may decide to come by and kick you butt for fun, just don't run. remember, i'm always watching.


Seriously Mozilla?

The Indian ID drive has ensured that benefits make it to the people who need them without 80% of it being skimmed by corrupt bureaucrats.

Having a real identification gives very poor individuals the identification necessary to open bank accounts and interact with the financial sector.

It's the first really reliable census data for a lot of areas.

It's disgusting that Mozilla sits there and pontificates about stopping programs which solve problems _they don't have_. In 50 years, when a couple hundred million Indians aren't having trouble getting enough to eat because their government subsidies were stolen, then maybe it's worth having this conversation. Until then, shut up and and let India solve its own problems, and don't help people starve to death on account of your pompous moral litmus tests.


Having grown up with a national ID system I have a very hard time understanding the fear that people who grew up in the US have of a national ID system. However, I think that's because I grew up in a system with very strong privacy protection. Judging by this article India isn't only lacking privacy protection but the government is actively setting out to profit from not having such protection in place. I do think that's a very bad combination. However, you are of course right that this might also solve a number of problems India has many other countries don't and have a hard time relating to. It's a good thing to point out arising privacy concerns. Maybe India could have a national ID and make an effort to protect its citizens data rather than selling it?


Why should applying to a university require an Aadhar card? Getting a phone number? Getting gas to my house? They're shoving it down our throats.

I'm not entirely opposed to a UID system in India, but the way its been legislated and implemented in the last few years is absolutely disgusting.

India has absolutely 0 laws when it comes to privacy. Who is accountable when your data is leaked? Its literally upto the Aadhar committee whether they prosecute any leak of data.


Aadhar isn't really solving these problems, but in fact is compromising on the privacy of the citizens of India. See https://rethinkaadhaar.in/myths/


All those myths are strawman arguments.


Why is Aadhar being made compulsory for rail/air travel or for getting cellular connections? What problem is biometrics in these areas going to solve?


Privacy...

I think the problem here is ultimately that people aren't doing proper threat modeling, and failing to include the government itself as a potential threat.

The most terrifying consulting contract I've ever been offered was a project to entirely replace cash in a country with a "blockchain" currency scheme. In addition to the requirements that both buyer and seller be 100% identified (likely by biometrics), there was also a requirement that every receipt be uploaded to a government run server, allowing exactly what was being bought to be tracked in detail in real-time. And of course, there was the requirement that it be possible to freeze accounts on demand.

I asked the client what country the project was ultimately going to be for, and they didn't really want to tell me (citing NDA's and what not). But I did get them to finally admit it wasn't a democracy, it was a dictatorship.

Pretty obvious that dictatorship wanted even more control over their citizens. Needless to say, I turned the contract down as being involved would be incredibly unethical.

But how much more ethical is it really to do the same type of project in a country that's supposed to be a democracy? I'm not so sure there's a clear difference, given how quickly privacy protections can be removed. Look at how census data was used to round up the Japanese in the USA during WWII for instance.


>In 50 years, when a couple hundred million Indians aren't having trouble getting enough to eat because their government subsidies were stolen, then maybe it's worth having this conversation.

that's the game played; radical programs are raised and enforced in environments where it is nigh impossible to exist without them so that the corruption and moral negligence caused by such programs is swept under the rug for later generations 'to deal with' (the point being that later generations will be even less capable of reversing such programs as they will likely be even more reliant on them)

see: 'indentured servitude' for similar strategies.


> In 50 years, when a couple hundred million Indians aren't having trouble getting enough to eat because their government subsidies were stolen, then maybe it's worth having this conversation

And how having bio-metric ID solves problem of stolen subsidies? Every time a subsidy is stolen, aaddhar card will shoot an arrow into corrupt bureaucrats.

Our poor does not have access to Education and Law so they don't really know where to seek justice.


Yep. PIN enabled smartcards for cash transfers/rural employement schemes were already proven to be useless when officials simply forced villagers to give up their PIN and thus give up part of their entitled income if they wanted to see any of their own money. Another ID, biometric or not, is not going to solve the problems of the poor


No its not. And those countries HAD those problems, and SOLVED them by going up the wealth ladder and building institutions.

THere is NO short cut to institutions and habit building.

You could build a million toilets, and people still wouldn't use it in India, because the older institutions and habits are stronger.

In the same way, just having a magical tech bullet is a favorite fantasy of people who haven't seen the cross of human institutions and actual human behavior.

Aadhar is already shown to not work on its promised targets, but has of course been expanded to do everything from book tickets, to get phones.

This I promise, once the ruling coalition changes, the pro-aadhar brigade will change their tune, once they worry that their neck is on the line.

Convenience and efficiency over your rights are terrible choices.


>The Indian ID drive has ensured that benefits make it to the people who need them without 80% of it being skimmed by corrupt bureaucrats.

Before the Aadhar, when the Govt. started distributing PIN enabled smartcards to villagers (for food/cash transfers/employment), corrupt officials just started forcing villagers to give up their PIN and give up part of their balance if they wanted to see their food/cash/jobs.

A similar thing is going to happen / probably already happening with Aadhaar where local officials are going to force folks to give up part of their cash/jobs/rations if they want to see any of it, even after these people use their fingerprints/whatever to access whatever they are entitled to.

One of the reasons this biometric ID project was launched was purportedly to get rid of duplicate/fake IDs. (We already have a zillion ID systems - PAN, Driver's licence, Passports, Voter Id, Ration cards, NREGA Id, etc). However by 2013 itself, the govt. said it had detected 34,000 duplicate/fake Aadhaar IDs already. The real number is probably much higher and growing. There are several instances of biometric Aadhaar ID cards successfully registered for dogs as well!

Several Govt. organizations have already leaked (most accessible via a Google search) ~135 million Aadhar numbers along with names, addresses, photos [1]. The incompetent officials simply do not give a fuck about privacy/security.

The problem isn't ID/biometrics but lack of law enforcement which is going to be a problem regardless of Aadhaar. The current leadership vehemently opposed Aadhar due to privacy concerns before the elections, and immediately changed tune.

The danger with hogwash projects such as Aadhar (other than surveilance/loss of privacy/centralizing of power) is that they masquerade as solutions to problem which they never solve in the first place. The poor and hungry will still fucked in the end, but the new surveilance/censorship regime will be here to stay.

If serving the poor is the cause, why is a biometric ID needed (Adhaar is being made compulsory for:) for air travel, rail travel, getting a cellular connection, appearing for high school/university board exams! The Govt. now has a central kill switch to end a dissenting person's life simply by cancelling/blocking their ID! If not by malice then definitely by incompetence at the very least is going to get the lives of scores of people ruined. This project is a disaster and Mozilla is being polite in it's criticism.

[1]http://www.livemint.com/Politics/oj7ky556p6vdljXpRw8gPP/135-...


Unlike SSN number which lack associated biometric data, Aadhaar numbers lack utility without biometrics. A bunch of people read about SSN numbers "leaking" assume disclosure of Aadhar number is equally severe. Which is NOT AT ALL the case.

>> for air travel, rail travel,

Security

>> getting a cellular connection

Security

>> appearing for high school/university board exams

Prevent cheating


I might be projecting my views onto other HN readers' here, but I don't know that you can garner that much support with this audience for the idea that people shouldn't be able to buy cell service anonymously.


You would be reinforcing GP's point that Indians may have different priorities than say, the HN crowd or Mozilla.


Good point, thanks.


What pin smart card? Could you provide sources?


I belong to the third world of the third world.

State called Uttar Pradesh.

If you consider India as 3rd world, then UP is 3rd world of India.

Here are the emotional benefits of Aadhar :

My parents don't have to bribe the local gas connections distribution agents.

Which means,

No need to stay in long queue from 8 In the morning, not to get your cooking cylinder, but to pay the bribe.

Since the government has advertised the Direct Benefit far too much,on TV, on radio, the middleman (distributer) can't cheat anymore.

This government markets everything and hence the poor and underprivileged has started questioning those the officials who don't do their jobs or provide the things exactly as advertised.

The middleman I am talking about are not government employees directly, but taking a distribution agency does involve bribe payment.

Those middleman paid bribe before 2014 government to get the agency, hoping that they will get the roi(i is bribe) within a few years.

2014 government single handedly has destroyed the corrupt ( who paid bribe) middleman in gas distribution

Most of the proganda against this government is supported people who felt entitled being part of a government job, (extra bribe ) because the Congress Government had created deep corruption webs for 60 years.

Notice a fun fact, Aadhar was introduced before 2013, before the election of 2014.

Not many these so called privacy and human rights activists stood up then.

All propaganda against Aadhar has been intensified only after the Aadhar number started saving money and stared to directly benefit people.

Coincidence?

Also, when the government decided to link Aadhar to the income tax returns, again these privacy activists have become active ?

Coincidence?

Remember, the old lady in a village in in 3rd world does not know about privacy, she is happy because now her 15 son does not need to stand and bribe the gas distribution agency and can study for a day extra.


Propaganda? Your 30 minute old account sounds like propaganda too.

We all know we could reduce crime by putting cameras in people's homes. But we don't do that, because there are risks to those kinds of invasive measures.

Aadhar is infrastructure that allows for centralized control of the population. Sometimes that control will be used for good things, like stamping out bribery. But that control can just as easily be used for evil too. And history has shown time and time again that's exactly what happens. I live in Canada, a country filled with refugees of authoritarian regimes. Among my friends I personally know lots of people who have fled those kinds of regimes; I know very few people who have fled countries because of bribery. The latter is annoying and unproductive, but the former is deadly.

That's why you're seeing so much opposition to Aadhar: because it's incredibly dangerous.

edit: better wording


Police forces can be deadly, too; and the alternative to them usually isn't (it's mostly "just" fraud, armed robbery, rape and slave trafficking.) But we prefer to risk authorizing some people to carry deadly weapons around—even knowing it can and does turn out badly sometimes—in order to reduce the prevalence of the things we get from lawlessness.

Aadhar isn't risk-free, but if the majority of the country want it (i.e. if, being informed of the possible consequences, they aren't rioting or impeaching the guy extending it), I feel like that's their choice to make, just like the choice of having police would be.

Also: One of the things about our modern, globalized world, is that any state that's not a military superpower in its own right can't really get away with bootstrapping toward totalitarian autocracy for very long before some concerned state that is a military superpower steps in with a foreign-aided coup. I'm not asserting that that is always a good thing for the world—but, sort of like the "re-insurance" companies backing financial institutions, this arrangement allows smaller states to do "risky" things like using a panopticon to destroy corruption, with a bit of a safety net.


> But we prefer to risk authorizing some people to carry deadly weapons around—even knowing it can and does turn out badly sometimes—in order to reduce the prevalence of the things we get from lawlessness.

Yes, and we can get away with that because deadly weapons have an important safety feature: they're operated by individuals who can think for themselves, and themselves resist tyranny. Those weapons are also operated by individuals who are vulnerable to individuals who also have those weapons - notably an argument against drones is they make war too easy, without enough consequences against the agressor.

When those deadly weapons become more powerful - and more likely to be used against civilians rather than military - society is less and less accepting of their existance. That's why biological and chemical weapons are banned, and nuclear weapons are heavily discouraged.

Imagine if we had the ultimate deadly weapon - the ability to kill any individual with a push of the button with 100% success rates, with the owner of that weapon not being vulnerable to it. We'd be terrified of that weapon, because for all the good it might be able to do, in the wrong hands it'd be game over for freedom.

The opposition to Aadhaar simply recognizes that for whatever good it can do, it is a dangerous weapon, one with surprising power. Part of its surprising power is that it gets used to argue for implementation in other states - fighting that weapon needs to start not by arguing against it in your own country, but by arguing against its deployment anywhere.


> Aadhar isn't risk-free, but if the majority of the country want it

Thank you for soberly defending the program. I disagree with one of your precedents (specifically, that Indians are informed about the risks they're taking) but agree with your logic.


FWIW I mostly agree with the logic itself too, and I think it's a much better and more honest argument than failing to treat such surveillance systems as dangerous. My disagreement is on the tradeoffs.


> We all know we could reduce crime by putting cameras in people's homes. But we don't do that, because there are risks to those kinds of invasive measures.

Surprisingly, in India if people would be against such a measure then only because it would violate the modesty of women, and not because it invades the privacy.


Refer,

https://thewire.in/24713/aadhaar-identification-simplified-m...

The UIDAI has emphasised several times that information related to religion or caste is neither collected nor stored in the Aadhaar database. Applicants and holders are encouraged to look at their Aadhaar to confirm this


Give me a list of 1000 Indian names and I can guess their religion with nearly 95% accuracy.

All the points you say sound like you're 'prepared' or 'rehearsed' to say things like this.

When the next Gujarat riots happen, trust me just a list of people and their addresses would be sufficient enough to figure out where all the Muslims live.


[flagged]


> And, Godhra Train was burned by 2000 Muslims surrounding a train and burning people with nothing to escape.

> Next time before mentioning Godhra and Muslims in same sentence don't forget to mention what 2000 Muslims did to unarmed people in train by locking the train compartment.

None of these things matter. Lets say that 10 people committed a crime in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people, then they hid in some houses, and goons who have the backing of the govt then used the Adhaar database to single out all the community members of the same community as the culprits, found them and lynched them.

Even then, nothing changes the fact that dilution of civil liberties happened by the Adhaar card, as article linked claims.

> 95% of the stats are made on the spot, like you made above.

That's not a 'stat', it's my confidence level on my ability to judge these things.


You are unable to back up your claims by verifiable data source and quantifiable data points.

Can you get the caste of a person by reading the Aadhar number ?

Answer is No.

If you or your relatives had not lost bribe money due to the Direct Benefit scheme, then I cannot understand the blatant hate of Aadhar.

Otherwise, I hope that neither you nor your immediate family members were accumulating wealth by being corrupt or being the actual middleman themselves.


The answer is yes

After the change in 2016, aadhar no longer gives only a confirmation/negation, it also provides demographic information aka full name, and address + a few more features.

Surnames are highly distinctive especially when combined with address data, so yes Aadhar now will provide you with enough information to assess caste.

Furthermore - since when do mobs and angry people worry about 100% accuracy. In the throes of emotion, close enough is good enough.


> Can you get the caste of a person by reading the Aadhar number ?

Are you saying that government does not have any information associated with the Aadhar number? You're straw manning really badly. The whole argument, nearly every single person in this thread, making against you is that Aadhar is dystopian. But your argument is "But you can't figure out a person's info by just reading the Aadhar number".


As an American (born and raised), this whole discussion is fascinating and is similar to the 'Obamacare' debate here. All of the Indians I've known in the US corroborate your claim about knowing one's religion/ heritage by last name alone. I hope the discussion can remain civil, but there does seem to be an agenda among some participants.


[flagged]


We've banned this account for breaking the HN guidelines. Creating an account and immediately getting into a flamewar is not an acceptable way to use this site. If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and promise to follow the rules when commenting here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html


> Can you read at all?...It's not that hard.

Please refrain from personal insults. We're trying to understand something together. Name calling doesn't promote that goal.


Propaganda? Your 30 minute old account sounds

Do you know the difference between a reader and writer ?

Please Google the difference.

Not every reader on hn for over 5 years needs to have an account.

And, not every old account need not contribute anything useful to the discussion.

Good Day.


you didn't address his main points though.


> Notice a fun fact, Aadhar was introduced before 2013, before the election of 2014. Not many these so called privacy and human rights activists stood up then.

I realize you're probably talking about people in India in this context, not people in the U.S., but I helped write part of this anti-Aadhar post back in 2012:

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/09/indias-gargantuan-biom...

In support of your view that some critics have minimal knowledge of India, but also in opposition to your view that critics are motivated by considerations of Indian politics, I don't know which party was in power in India either before or after the 2014 election.


Aadhar started rolling out in 2011 itself, people started enrolling out then only and started getting Aadhar card by post.

Some privacy activists did stood and enquired but did not get much support or voice.

After 6 years who are the people who are creating noise and running from corner to corner ?

Do these people actually care about privacy? Hard to think.

Have these people lost money due to direct benefit scheme? Plausible.

There is no reason to blatantly hate Aadhar unless

- you are a corrupt government employee

- you are a middleman contractor

- you had invested in something and were hoping that the roI will come as a bribe from the common people

- you fear more direct to benefit schemes in future because you have been accumulating wealth by being a middleman all through your life.

-- you are a privacy freak typing on a device assembled in China.


> you are a privacy freak typing on a device assembled in China.

So I see a lot of tensions in this thread between views of privacy advocates in India opposing Aadhar (accused of having some other kind of agenda) and privacy advocates outside India opposing it (accused of not knowing much about India).

Although this thread has included discussions about both Indian and non-Indian opposition, the privacy community outside India is quite relevant because the original article is a (U.S.-based) Mozilla post criticizing Aadhar.

I'm a privacy advocate outside India accused of not knowing much about India, to which I can readily confess. I have unfortunately not yet had the opportunity to visit India. As I said, I don't know which party was in power when Aadhar was first developed, nor do I know which party is in power now, nor have I witnessed the situation of the rural communities often described as the biggest Aadhar beneficiaries.

I do find it sad that the notion of hypocrisy or disproportionate concern has taken on such a high profile in this thread.

Like you said, I am typing this on a device assembled in China. I've thought about the possibility that the Chinese state (in whose territory this device was shipped), the American state (through those territory this device was shipped and in whose territory its CPU was designed), or the Swedish, Dutch, German, Swiss, Italian, Portuguese, Brazilian, Singaporean, Taiwanese, British, or Chinese states, among others (through those territory I've carried this device), may have used their access to backdoor it somehow.

I find these possibilities deeply tragic. I'm very grateful that so many people around the world are working to expose, detect, and fight back against the ways in which governments may tamper with our devices. People who do that are my heroes, and I hope their community will grow and grow. If a manufacturer can show how it's better-protected its users against supply chain attacks, I will be really excited to consider its products.


The track record of power-centralising anti-corruption projects is poor. This is because corruption is a sign of weak or ineffective institutions. Institutions which can't stop bribery probably can't prevent the next guy from e.g. zeroing out the bank accounts of vulnerable populations who voted against him or are to the detriment of a crony.


We had Nehru Firoz Khan dynasty, their relatives, their friends, at premier positions of adminstration, politics, law enforcement for 60 years.

They lacked the motive to actually establish strong and performance oriented institutions, hence corruption became a daily routine in India.

Slowly, some(not all) things are progressing.

Using Aadhar to directly transfer the money to exact recipient has rattled those who had enjoyed or felt entitled to waste the subsidiaries or sell the subsidiaries items in outer market + then ask the government for extra subsidiaries again and again and again.


>Not many these so called privacy and human rights activists stood up then.

The current PM Modi himself criticized it then : https://twitter.com/narendramodi/status/453543852175925248?l...

Coincidence?


He asked questions about implementation.


..and complained when he didn't receive any answers from the government in power and now that his Government is in power, not only is it also refusing to answer questions but is also targeting the people who ask similar questions.[1]

[1] Google for CIS and Aadhaar leaks


Yes, but the old lady in the village will have a problem with it when it is used to marginalize and discriminate against her.

The riots in 1984 and in 2001 showed us how voter lists can, and will, be misused by people in power to their own benefit.


You mean the Cincinnati riots of 2001 I can clearly see why USA should not have voter lists /s

The riots happened in 2002 and NOT 2001 (at least get the year right), and unless you are arguing abolishing voter lists, or have a specific argument that involves Aadhar. I don't see how this is in anyway relevant to this discussion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cincinnati_riots_of_2001

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Gujarat_riots


Nice deflection! Are you disagreeing that voter lists were used in 2001 to discriminate against muslims? Do we have any laws preventing that from happening with aadhar data?


Do you even understand how Aadhar works?

You made a claim.

Can you prove that using an Aadhar number one can get the religion of a person?


If you can identify someone, it's easy to link it to data that identifies their religion.


Given a persons name you can guess with fairly reasonable accuracy what their religion is.


[flagged]


> Don't spread fake news like the communists.

> mostly anti current government (it spreads fake news most of the times)

Do you consider views from sources that disagree with your own as 'fake news' ? A lot of what you've posted here sounds a lot like the hyper partisan BJP trolls that seem to pop up wherever there's any criticism of the Modi government.

You should try to do better on HN, because I would prefer not to see that particular virulent strain of the internet in relatively sane places.


[flagged]


> I would rather communicate with those who don't label people and jump to conclusions.

Physician, heal thyself.

I love HN and have been reading it for a long time, content to browse. There's very little that jolts me into actually commenting, but your comments since registering did because it's reminiscent of a pattern anyone that's been involved with Indian/South Asian communities or discussions online have seen over and over again - a topic that's critical of the Modi government or the BJP being injected with insults and invective over constructive discussion by sudden newcomers.

The only thing missing to complete the BJP bingo is the traditional cries of 'anti-national'.


Wherever I mentioned the government, did I mention bjp government?

You are just assuming things.

I also mentioned "this government invests lots in advertising", did I mention BJP?

I also mentioned " due to heavy advertising the cosumer of government services has become more aware of his/her right and is asking the Government official more questions".

Where exactly did I mention bjp ?


> Disgusting comment...Don't spread fake news like the communists.

Your post would be stronger without this outburst at the top. Consider removing it? I think it will make others more receptive to your arguments.


My folks also loved aadhar because of the cheap gas. Not because of bribes ( i guess its not an issue in Kerala) but because the government would give subsidy to those who had aadhar cards. So people sold their privacy to the govt, in exchange for cheap gas.


How exactly is a biometric ID going to prevent them demanding bribes?


https://rethinkaadhaar.in/testimonials/

^ What happens when a centralised system with brittle architecture fails.

For all the nationalistic spiel, the fact remains that even if I have a passport that proves my identity, service providers (public and private, equally) are forced to ask (or just blindly ask for) my Aadhar number (which I don't have) . Ironic isn't it.


This is ridiculous fearmongering at a scale unseen before, given the enormous amount of corruption in Indian public distribution schemes, Aadhar has potential to be revolutionary in not only reducing corruption but also in providing poor people in India with assistance that they currently lack. Its easy to be a rich and employed in SF and pontificate about how other countries should run their government.

Mozilla is equivalent of those who criticized "Green revolution" because if fed starving people without causing "social revolution" etc. Aadhar has potential to cause "Digital revolution" and decades from now Mozilla will be on the wrong side of history.

Finally any Indian in USA simply has no right to criticize Aadhar since the US Visa process requires biometrics from all visitors.


> Finally any Indian in USA simply has no right to criticize Aadhar since the US Visa process requires biometrics from all visitors.

I find the "no right to criticize" theory confusing.

I understand if your point is that one might be hypocritical in endorsing one government's biometric collection but not another. But I (a non-Indian) have criticized both US-VISIT and Aadhar. I don't want the U.S. government to have a database of visitors' (or citizens') biometric data, nor do I want the Indian government to have a database of citizens' (or visitors') biometric data. There need not be any hypocrisy or logical contradiction in that.

Edit: it looks from elsewhere in the thread like your point is that Indians in the U.S., in particular, must have acquiesced in giving their biometric data to the US-VISIT program (otherwise they would not have been admitted). I think there is some force to that argument, but it also seems to suggest that people who accept any government's preconditions for doing anything that they did not absolutely have to do are then giving up their right to criticize the government for imposing that requirement. For example, some people in the U.S. have criticized local government for requiring a government cosmetology license in order to practice eyebrow threading. I assume that some of those critics have nonetheless signed up for such licenses. Did they completely surrender their right to criticize that requirement when they did so?


> fearmongering at a scale unseen before

Such hyperbole weakens your argument. It's borderline zealous. I don't think you are a zealot and I think you have a valid argument, although I disagree with you. But expressing good thoughts in hyperbole is not effective here.

(Another example is the "no right to criticise" argument. Nobody cares who has a legal right to do disagree. This isn't a court of law. All we care about are good arguments. If someone is hypocritical, point that out. But people can be hypocritical while still having a good point.)


"fearmongering at a scale unseen before" is reasonable response when the argument uses words like "dystopian".


You have never seen anyone call anything dystopian before?


Aadhar is definitionally dystopian.

In case people are unaware

> No fundamental right to privacy to citizens: Centre tells SC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/No-fundamental-righ...

thats from 2015.

Aadhar has regularly been pushed in violation of SC verdicts for ever.

Until 2016, and the enshrinment of the 2016 act, it wasn't even with parliamentary backing - AND it was still pushed.

At every level, aadhar has been abused and misused, publicly and on record.

It is dystopian


I don't understand why you're so pissed off rather than arguing logically.

>Finally any Indian in USA simply has no right to criticize Aadhar since the US Visa process requires biometrics from all visitors.

This simply doesn't hold any logic. If Aadhar is so good, then it should be able to stand up to any argument based on its merits regardless of where it's coming from. Can you actually present any points against the points being made by Mozilla?

Are you ok with your intimate personal details being sold to private companies? Maybe your son or daughter have a sickness and now all the private companies can know about it. Maybe years from now the collected data will be used to make decisions about whether to admit them into a school or hire them as professionals.

Please think calmly and logically rather than being sensational, egotistical, and personal. Nobody is trying to hurt your "Indian Pride".


I don't mind giving my biometric data to the US government because I have more legal protection in the US if my data is leaked. India has absolutely no laws to deal with my data being leaked and misused. Also, my biometric data in the US is only used at entry and exit - its not used for every single action I do while in the country. Aadhar tracks literally every action you take - which is scary.


Are you an US citizen? If not, I don't think there are many limits on how your data might be used by the US government or by private actors in the US?


Yes they scan the biometrics and I allow it. But do they make it the password for different services? Coz thats where its headed. Authentication and Authorisation are not the same thing.


Have you read PG's How to Disagree essay? It's really good. http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html


Explain how Aadhar can reduce corruption? I still encounter government officials who take bribes in order to do the basic duty they were supposed to do. Neither Aadhar nor even demonetization has affected this in my experience.

I can understand how Aadhar reduces the corruption of common people (like in the case of tax evasion). And the government loves to reduce corruption of the common man. However it is very unwilling to lower its own corruption.


Getting a US Visa is voluntary. Getting an Aadhaar in India is being made compulsory


> Finally any Indian in USA simply has no right to criticize Aadhar since the US Visa process requires biometrics from all visitors.

This is BS because getting a visa is a conscious choice, Aadhar is forced upon India's residents. You're attacking people for having an opinion that's contrary to yours.

About your other points - no one is denying the benefits of having a strong unique ID system that lets people interface with government services; the problem is that Aadhar has no safeguards for privacy - which you would've focused on had you bothered to read the article.


[flagged]


The level of national discourse in India has reached such a low point that questioning or raising doubts about any of the government's policies/actions leads to one being labelled a traitor to the country.

It is depressing to see such knee jerk reactions to healthy discussion, short on facts and long on emotions.


I don't know what kind of world you live in, where you cannot believe that people can take a principled stand about a policy. Why can I not worry about my family's data being shared free-for-all by random startups that use their "Open API"?

Not everything is about X team vs Y team.


WTF has Mozilla to do with any of this?


Did you even read the article?

""" This opinion piece by Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker and Mozilla community member Ankit Gadgil """


This comment breaks the HN guidelines and some of your other comments ("You are the one full of bullshit") are breaking them even worse. We ban accounts that do this, and have already asked you not to. Please don't post like this again.


Sorry, I can't seem to edit it to remove. But will keep this in mind in future. Best,


Well, I agree the discussion is pretty awful. But this policy is a bit unclear to me (and otherwise unwritten, AFAICT):

> not making insinuations about astroturfing and shills, unless you have evidence

That's confusing: What evidence could users have? In my comment, one of the ones you objected to, I cited some strong patterns in the discussion. That's going to be the best evidence that users have access to unless it's very clumsily executed. The astroturfers aren't going to out themselves; looking like ordinary users is the fundamental requirement of 'astroturf'.

So if there's no possible sufficient evidence, do you really mean, 'don't bring it up at all?' I understand not accusing individuals without evidence, but nobody even should point out the general possibility, saying for example, "it seems like something odd is going on here; all these talking points look the same and are made provocatively ..."?

There is no doubt astroturf happens here, simply because there is overwhelming evidence that it is rampant on the Internet and HN isn't exempt. If users can't discuss the topic at all (probably not what you meant), that would shield the bad actors and be a recipe for it to happen unrestrained.

EDIT: some clarifying edits


We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14432749 and marked it off-topic.


https://rethinkaadhaar.in/myths/

Posting these for everyone's benefit.


OMG Mozilla. No wonder open internet is in such a bad shape when we have you leading it.

1) Aadhaar is not fundamentally different than a National ID which every other country in this world has. India not only lacked it, out birth registrations certificates weren't reliable at all.

2) Yes they do collection Biometrics(BM). But BM are never shared with any other agency/company. And it's strictly codified in law. BM are only used for deduplication(1b+ population), and authentication.

3) For KYC(Know your Customer) or E-Payments BM based authentication is much more secure than what's being used currently - signatures, and self attested xerox which anyone can forge/photoshop.

4) You can also ask Aadhaar server to dispatch an SMS to your mobile number every time an authentication happens. Now compare that your signature/xerox which anyone can forge/photoshop and you would have no idea about it.

5) In this changing world who would you want to control identity? A private company like Apple which can block you or some developer anytime and there would be no recourse? Or a govt agency - backed by a law of Parliament - that you can drag to court.

6) Want to build a marketplace for house-maids? Or for farmers? Don't want it bogged down by scamsters which in the end depressing adaption?

Easy add Aadhaar based autnetication to your app. http://bridge.aadhaarconnect.com/

7) For financial products like bank accounts, mutual funds etc Aadhaar brings down compliance cost. So for a MF while in the old system it wouldn't be viable to take an investment of less than 50k Rs because the compliance cost itself would be 1k Rs or something, now you can do it under 10 Rs.

Are we making a better world or not, in which the poor have access to Mutual funds, Insurance etc or Mozilla thinks it's not?

Please watch this https://youtu.be/LJCEyqcKN3Q?t=5m50s and tell me which other country in this world can match this. Getting a loan in under 8 minutes. Or opening a bank account in under 10 min.

This is a technological revolution - but not happening in Copenhagen or Zurich, but dusty villages of India.

I have had enough of these Aadhaar critics - and now Mozilla - who have colonised their minds with some western ideas, and are unable to see what's happening in India.

Bottom line, there's no better example of how technology can drastically change lives for the poor and the needy than Aadhaar.

Those who are unable to see it, are usually just biased because need clicks for their publications, or need to build their reputation as security analyst or something by bashing something. Look into this thread itself, and you'll find them linking to each other's twitter profile etc. Sickening really.


> Aadhaar is fundamentally different than a National ID which every other country in this world has.

Not the United States!

Edit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_identity_card... seems to suggest national IDs are voluntary in 15 countries, nonexistent in 9, and mandatory in 82. One thing that seems possibly significant is that six of the non-mandatory ones include the entirety of the "Anglosphere".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglosphere

That's right, each of the Anglosphere countries has no mandatory national ID. And although the culture and politics of those countries varies quite a bit, including with regard to privacy and civil liberties issues and beliefs about state power, I believe that each one includes a significant number of citizens who are quite proud that there's no mandatory ID, regarding it as a particular way in which their country is more free than others, and as something worth defending.


Aadhaar has the same data that your US birth certificate has. Name/DOB/gender/Address-if-available. Unless I'm mistaken everyone in US has a Birth Certificate.

EDIT IN RESPONSE TO YOUR EDIT

An birth certificate is also an ID. There's no rational reason of being proud of not having a national ID, when you have mandatory birth registrations and birth certificates.

If anything Aadhaar store less information than your BC - no record of who your parents are for example.


Birth certificates don't contain biometrics [edit: I guess some hospitals include a newborn's footprints] and may not contain address in some states; the address is also never updated (nor is the name in case of name changes). They also aren't issued by the national government and are kept in databases at the state level -- sometimes on paper.

I don't believe there are any national standards for what data a birth certificate must contain.


Really. So anyone can physically break into an archiving unit, steal someone's BC, change some details and use it get benefits/fraud? And the victim wouldn't even get a hint? Sounds very dangerous!

I have my details saved in a centralised database, which notifies me via an SMS anytime my credentials are used.

I acknowledge the BM issue elsewhere in this thread. But please realise that unless you live in a cave your BM are already public. I can take you out for a coffee and steal your finger prints.

The point is that for KYC/payments BM are much more secure than the alternative you would use - signatures/xerox which are even easier to steal since you just need a pen and a paper.


No, a birth certificate isn't proof of identity. It's typically used to establish an identified person's citizenship or date of birth.


> There's no rational reason of being proud of not having a national ID, when you have mandatory birth registrations and birth certificates.

Some of the Anglosphere's pride in not having national ID should probably be eroded by the standardization of other forms of ID and the movement toward requiring them for more things by regulation (e.g., air travel, banking, some forms of train travel, and proof of age to enter regulated venues that serve alcohol).

However, the lack of national ID should in principle make it harder for the state to routinely easily identify us in public, or to institute movement controls, or to require people to be identified for more kinds of transactions. Possibly all of these things are tending to fail over time in different ways, which may end up making the lack of national ID increasingly symbolic.

At the same time, I do think there are jurisdictions where mandatory national IDs have made it easier for both state and commercial entities to switch some kinds of transactions and interactions from anonymous by default to strongly identified by default. Since we've seen someone else in this thread argue that identifying people for air travel and mobile communications services are desirable benefits of national ID, I'll count that as a point against national ID from my point of view.


A birth certificate isn't required in the US for every single transaction you make.


SSN/TIN is required to open a bank account. Like it's in every other country. Or to get welfare payments.

It's kind of common-sense. To give welfare to someone, you first need to identify them.


Ah yes, the superior totally optional SSN in the US is... a better implementation.


Or the U.K. Who also categorically ditched their biometric ID cards.


Edit: I don't care about karma on HN but if you're downvoting please explain yourself.

  > The Indian ID drive has ensured that benefits make it to the people who need
  > them without 80% of it being skimmed by corrupt bureaucrats.
Citation ? (not about the corruption happening, that has been well established, but about aadhaar allegedly solving this problem).

  > Having a real identification gives very poor individuals the identification
  > necessary to open bank accounts and interact with the financial sector.
There already are a pletora of identification methods in India, including the PAN, ration card, BPL Card, Voter ID etc. In the end the problems that keep it from being 'unique' are in the implementation at the grass roots. How is Aadhaar going to change this ? There already are a lot of reports of duplication of Aadhaar.

  > It's the first really reliable census data for a lot of areas.
Reliable ? Oh really ? According to the goverment's own addmission :

http://aadhaarcarduid.org/uidai-cancelled-3-8-lakh-fake-aadh...

  > It's disgusting that Mozilla sits there and pontificates about stopping
  > programs which solve problems _they don't have_. In 50 years, when a couple
  > hundred million Indians aren't having trouble getting enough to eat because
  > their government subsidies were stolen, then maybe it's worth having this
  > conversation. Until then, shut up and and let India solve its own problems,
  > and don't help people starve to death on account of your pompous moral
  > litmus tests.
Firstly, the Indian goverment is not even interested in debating or engaing people who have a different viewpoint than them, including the Superme Court of India. So, tell me again, which is this India you speak about that is allegedly soloving its problems ? I feel like Indians like me are lesser Indians than thos that toe the Goverment line.

I often think about this when it comes to Indians reacting to critizims about India:

Except from the book "Restart"[1]

  > Then the denial, the one form of intellectual argument we have mastered.
  > India has no problem; if it has a problem, it is nobody else’s business;
  > everybody else also has this problem; everybody else has other problems, why
  > don’t you talk about those instead; why are you saying this is a problem, it is
  > a part of our 5000-year- old culture; we knew the answers to all problems in
  > the Vedic era; even if we have this problem, it is not our fault; even if we
  > have this problem, we cannot accept any of the solutions that have been shown
  > to work elsewhere; even if we have this problem, it is much better than it was;
  > perhaps we have this problem, but it is none of your business.
...and this book is not even about sociology or politics, it is about economics.

http://www.amazon.in/Restart-Last-Chance-Indian-Economy/dp/8...


> Edit: I don't care about karma on HN but if you're downvoting please explain yourself.

Please don't break the HN guidelines by going on about downvotes.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14431021 and marked it off-topic.


Not that it matters a whole lot but you made two mistakes:

a. You said going on about downvotes, whereas I mentioned it only once, and you probably didn't bother to check whether the only other reference of the same kind was not made by me.

b. My actual comment and the replies I received (iow, the thread) were not off-topic if you had bothered to read them.


"Going on about downvotes" means complaining about them or otherwise making them a topic of discussion here, which is always tedious and always off-topic.

Comments that break the site guidelines in this way cross into offtopicness regardless of how relevantly they began.


I'm not Indian, I'm a white middle class American.


Ok, but since appear to have such a strong opinion on the subject, perhaps you could also address the questions I've asked ?


I will give you a free advice:

Most Aadhar criticism comes from and is supported by

People who have lost money due to due to direct benefit scheme.

Those people accumulated lots of money over years by producing fake bills, extra names in the ration cards.

Aadhar card started to roll out in 2011 itself, How many of these privacy freaks had raise the voice and if they did, were they supported ?

No.

Only after Aadhar started saving money for the poor, hence the money started drying out of pockets of those corrupt officials and contractors, does this activism against Aadhar has been supported.

Who are those people who were OK with Aadhar for 4 years, but are not OK now?

Now that Aadhar will be used for some more direct to benefit transfer scmehes, will you see more activists and more noise.

Think.

I will give you a hint.

How do you think does a 9 to 5 government employee is able to accommodate wealth to send his son to one of ivy leavgue schools or enroll him in a music class or send him to costly coaching classes or send him to top schools.

Where did that money came form?

Won't those sons oppose Aadhar whose dads tool bribe to accumulate wealth to make sure the son gets educated/skilled.

A lot of people thrive and plan their yearly budget based on bribe amount not salary amount?

Would not those people oppose Aadhar?


1.I don't get any subsidies 2. I don't earn as I am a student so no tax evasion possible 3. My father is in the army and mother is a school teacher so no scope of benefiting from corruption

I still don't support Aadhar. Neither am I convinced. Neither am I appreciative of the arrogance of UIDAI and iSpirt team. UIDAI's claims of subsidy savings have been blown away by the CAG. The aadhar critics argue in data while aadhar supporters use hypebole and try to appeal to emotions.


I said this a bit differently in another comment but I'll ask you this - would you still support Aadhaar if the party in power was not the Bjp? Remember that the party in power will inevitably change at some point but this project will remain. Would you be able to trust any party besides the Bjp with being in charge of this project? If you would, well I won't argue with you, if not you really have to think about the implications of what is happening.


FYI : I will welcome all those scheme which dry out the bribe money from the corrupt government service officials.

I will also welcome all methods which

- eliminate the middleman

- reduce the sense of entitlement from government officials

- abolish the need of standing in queues of people to pay bribe

- financially drain out all those government officials who plan their expenses based on bribe estimate not their actual salary

Aadhar's direct benefit scheme has actually done it.


I too support all initiatives you list but not at the risk of handing away by identity for potential abuse. You have to understand that most Aadhaar critics are not anti-national or corrupt, in fact quite the opposite they do not want to become (even more) vulnerable to the 'big players ' in the hierarchy of corruption in India.


Again, I have never mentioned bjp in any place where I mentioned the government.

Did I?

You are just assuming.


Ok re-read the comment substituting Bjp with party currently in power and think about the question.

My entire point was Aadhaar is dangerous in its current form irrespective of the government backing it. As for your dismissive comments on why not many people complained earlier (which is a bit dishonest to claim btw, there were quite a few who did, including the current PM and other politicians from the BJP, fwiw), the reason possibly was because it wasn't being forced down everyone's throat like it is now.


Is the Indian government now also doing astroturfing? Does anyone know about any serious research or reporting on it? Chinese and Russian operations are well-known and reported, but I haven't heard of Indian ones.

Seeing the same, generally weak talking points, angrily defending the Indian government, advocating nationalistic points of view, and repeated over and over - it all reminds me of threads critical of China and Russia.


> Is the Indian government now also doing astroturfing?

You can't make insinuations of astroturfing or shillage on HN without evidence. Haven't we discussed this with you before? Please don't comment like this again.


dang: It's a bit shocking to read this, and it's disappointing too.

I hadn't heard of this policy until now. I've seen very many comments make similar claims in many discussions and I didn't see this response. I just checked the Guidelines and it's not discussed there. Please consider how a user would learn about it - I'm pretty active and I haven't seen it. One possible source of miscommunication: Users probably see only a tiny fraction of what you do, and you could make this comment 100 times and maybe only a fraction of users would come across it at all.

But it's especially disappointing to read the accusation, which has no basis as far as I know. I've always been respectful of the mods, other users, the forum, and its rules, even when I think they aren't great ideas (inevitably, nobody will agree with everything). If I had known about this policy, I would have respected it too. I don't know how I was cast into the role of an antagonist. Like anyone, I don't appreciate loose allegations about me.

...

> You can't make insinuations of astroturfing or shillage on HN without evidence

I don't quite understand the policy as stated. I understand not accusing individuals without evidence, but I certainly didn't do that even by implication. Half my comment was a question asking if there was evidence that it happens in other places, not HN. I also raised the possibility of it happening here, but clearly was unsure and 'insinuated' nothing; I meant simply what I said. If not even that is allowed ...

But to be clear, my concerns don't mean I won't respect your forum's rules. (However, uncertainties will make it more likely that it will happen unintentionally)

EDIT: Moved paragraph with questions of general interest to your post at the top of the discussion.


If we haven't discussed this before, I must have confused you with someone else and apologize.

I've posted about this countless times: https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byDate&prefix=true&page=0&dateR....

There are several ways you might have actual evidence that someone was astroturfing, but they're rare, and overwhelmingly less likely than people just making such accusations up because another user's comment pisses them off. The "you must be a shill" trope is pretty much the most popular internet cheap shot out there, and based on everything we know, it's a far greater threat to this site because it's so common and degrades discussion so quickly. Indeed it's a bit like antivirus software in causing the very problem it claims to combat.

So, unless you have more evidence than someone being wrong in your opinion on the internet, you bet it's inadmissible here.


To be clear, I agree that it's very often a cheap shot and I'm glad such things are not generally part of HN.

> I've posted about this countless times

Everyone needs to know policy, but I think few see your comments. You see all your posts and feel you are repeating yourself; users see a tiny fraction of them and may never read about any particular policy. I'm pretty active, but most days I see zero comments from mods - I see a few discussions and a minority of comments in each. Consider even your 'sticky' post at the top of this discussion - what tiny fraction of HN users will see it? Few will see this discussion, and even most/many commenters on this discussion will have moved on or will be reading their comment histories to see responses.

> unless you have more evidence than someone being wrong in your opinion on the internet, you bet it's inadmissible here.

To be clear, that's not at all what I did, as I described above. I'm still not sure if what I did say - pointing to a strong pattern of the same arguments repeated in angry posts, both hallmarks of astroturfing and propaganda - is admissible, since it seems to both meet your standards and yet was rejected. Moving on ...


No, it's not admissible to see arguments you disagree with and make posts "wondering" if state actors are astroturfing HN. That's just another variation of the same insinuation, so please don't do it here.


Again, that's not what happened, and not what I described several times even though you can see it for yourself. I'm not going to repeat myself to describe it again, but this is absurd. It represents what you suspect in your mind - motives and intent - not the words on the page, while it overlooks half the actual text (the second paragraph, which contains the evidence). What defense is there from mind-reading? The baseless allegations are not welcome, even from moderators.

EDIT: I don't even disagree with the alleged astroturfers; I've known about Aadhaar for a long time and think it probably is a good idea on balance. This really is a ridiculous situation.


I'm not defending anything, it's just extremely hypocritical to accuse India's system of being dystopian while currently existing systems in "developed" nations are even worse.


America doesn't have this. EU doesn't have this. AFAIK only UAE has such a comprehensive system. What countries are you talking about that takes mandatory 10-finger + retina scans of its citizens and compiles it into a single database?

India hasn't banned DDT which has been banned for decades in every other country. We have crippled infrastructure, severe poverty. Yet India has time and money to implement one of the most ambitious Universal ID systems in the world.


[flagged]


I was referring to agricultural use which is banned worldwide except India and North Korea.

WHO recommends poor countries to use DDT for malaria probably because people there are dying anyway from malaria. Would rich countries use it? Do you use it in your home? Again why India uses it in Agriculture when other alternatives exist?


BJP (the current ruling part) is known to have a social media trolling unit: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/27/india-bjp-part....


Also payment startups are at the fore front of the Anti Aadhaar lobbying effort, since Aadhaar based payments + UPI essentially cut the middleman out - NO MDR anymore!

And it makes sense. Would you want a private company like ApplePay/PayPal/AliPay control payments, and be able to block merchants at will like apple does, or a public agency you can drag to court.


I'll add that in a few hours I got 6 (or maybe more) down-votes on otherwise uncontroversial comments that didn't agree with the seeming Indian nationalist party line - often the comments didn't directly disagree, they just didn't advocate or drink the Kool-Aid.

Not a complaint, but it looks like the symptoms of what I asked about.


That could be more because your tone, making unsubstantiated claims etc.

Instead if you want to blame some national party for it, it's you choice.

FYI I don't have downvotes powers.

Btw, I got donwvotes too. But I'm blaming anyone for it.


I thought my tone was civil and matter-of-fact. Please let me know if it seemed otherwise.

> unsubstantiated claims

I substantiated my hypothesis and acknowledged its uncertainty. Of course there is no clear proof of astroturfing, unless it's very clumsily done. The whole point of it is to look like legitimate users.


Would you please stop going on about this? You've done it a great deal and we've now explained to you that (unless you have actual evidence) it's off-topic.

If you have concerns about abuse on HN you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com so we can look into it, but you're not welcome to dilute HN discussions with what amounts to nothing more than tedious fantasy.


Aadhaar was supported by the previous government. This government continued it. Most of India is unwavered in their support, since they see the benefits of getting instant bank account or food subsidy. And not being forced to stand in a line for such simple stuff in 40C+ temperature and wasting your entire day.

There are more anti-aadhaar green accounts in this thread than pro-aadhaar. If your only argument is to bring thowaway statements like Nationalism/Russia etc into it, then it just reflects poorly on you.


[flagged]


> The short sightedness and naivety of this comment is disgusting.

This breaks the HN guideline against name-calling in arguments. Please edit that kind of thing, and bilious bits in general, out of your comments if you want to post here.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14431021 and marked it off-topic.


[dead]


I can share the data with you. Actual Aadhar failure logs. Do you want them ? Give me an email.


[dead]


These are not google search numbers, but via a publicly exposed API with no protection.

Seeing as it is that you have no faith in anyone but the UIDAI, I fail to see any point in disclosing anything further. The offer still stands though.


[flagged]


> Thank you for lying so brazenly. Wish could downvote you.

This is unacceptable here and if you post like this again, we will ban you. No matter how strongly you feel about a topic, you need to remain civil if you want to comment here.


Ok, I apologise. Shouldn't have used that word.


[flagged]


We've banned this account for egregiously violating the HN guidelines.


So when you said "intimate details" you meant logs. Ok.

Btw, Aadhaar doesn't store for what you authenticating, or where you are authenticating. That's another lie you are using to fear monger.

But in the end it doesn't matter. 1.3B+ Indians see the benefit of it. And are using it everyday by doing millions of transaction.

Keep on fear mongering. It's not having any effect.


No I meant biometrics as well.




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