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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?


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.


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,


>> getting a cellular connection


>> 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?

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