Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the UID project have no legal sanctity, said independent law researcher and human rights activist Usha Ramanathan on Saturday.
Speaking at a workshop on the UID, the National Population Register and Governance, organised by the Centre for Internet and Society, Ms. Ramanathan said the UIDAI has “no clear legal status.” “The fact that there are no limits placed on its functioning is deeply worrying,” she remarked.
Ms. Ramanathan pointed out that an agency, which was created by a mere executive order in 2009, now “owns” the data obtained from Indian citizens. Although the UIDAI has said enrolment is not mandatory, a host of providers of essential services – from ration shops to LPG distributors and now even railway tickets – require Aadhaar authentication.
The idea of using biometric validation of identities was adopted despite there “being no evidence of its viability anywhere in the world,” Ms. Ramanathan said. In fact, several reports have established the failure of biometrics as a means of validating identities, she claimed. The iris scanning, which has been adopted for the UID project is flawed because the iris does change over time, she said.
Anant Maringati, a geographer from Hyderabad, said the “positive” potential of the project have been usurped by entities such as microfinance institutions, which sue them to track those who have defaulted on loans.
‘An agency, which was created by a mere executive order in 2009, now owns the data obtained from Indian citizens’
‘Although the UIDAI has said enrolment is not mandatory, providers of essential services seek Aadhaar authentication’