Getting your fingerprints by hook or crook for the UID

Well, the UID fingerprinting scheme is now finalized. And they’re not taking just one, but fingerprints from all ten fingers! Well, I suppose we should be grateful they’re not scanning our eyes and taking saliva samples – yet.

It turns out that the handing over (Or fingering over? Wish we could really give them the finger :D ) of the prints will be mandatory and will have to be implemented wherever you have to hand over identification – such as banks, passport offices and ration card offices etc. Hopefully we’ll have to do it just once and be done with it.

So here’s what the plan is for these guys. All current identification cards will initially have their own ID numbers as is the case now, with the UID also being present. As time goes by, the other ID will be phased out and all that will remain will be the UID. The National Authority for Unique Identity (NAUI) and other institutions will then verify your identity when you visit say a bank by taking your fingerprints as well as your UID and query the database (sounds so Orwellian!) which will then either confirm or deny that you are….well you!

Image Credit: Mr Jaded

Fingerprints being collected for the UID

Fingerprints being collected for the UID

I’m paranoid enough to observe a sort of sinister progression of matters here. Initially we were told that other forms of identity would maintain their own IDs and now we’re told they’ll be phased out. We were told the UID would be voluntary with no card at all, and now we find that we have to give our fingerprints whenever we show our regular IDs and that the UID will be attached to other cards and not its own. Is the scope of this program going to expand even further?

I think it will. The temptation to use the UID in a more and more invasive manner will be too strong for the government to resist. Our only hope here is that Nilekani seems to be paying a good deal of attention to privacy related issues by consulting lawyers and other experts. Let’s hope it’s enough and he leaves enough power in the hands of the people without allowing the government to do whatever they want.

We need proper legislation to ensure that this scheme doesn’t go beyond its bounds and remains confined to a strict agenda only.

What do you think?

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  1. Random thought:

    Having given my fingerprints several times (for purely educational reasons) and taken others, I know it’s not always as straightforward. If you do it with a live-scan machine, it’s expensive – more accurate, but you need training on the machine.

    Taking prints traditionally, on a fingerprint card, also requires training which I doubt every bank employee, civil servant, etc, will recieve.

    I also once worked with someone who had no fingerprints, who almost wasn’t hired because he couldn’t pass a background check.

    Finally, what about the person who has no arms? Will they be able to get the services they need? Or be denied banking and other services like this Floridian?


  2. @the plasticgraduate
    Thanks for the link on the armless man – I added it to my shared items in Google :)

    I’m feeling hopeful that once the project starts, people will realize how difficult the whole thing is and there’ll be a backlash against it from the common people. Nandan Nilekani of all people should know how difficult it is to get people to follow a system when it’s new.

    He’s apparently open to the idea of retina scans as well. Land o Goshen!