Nilekani admits that UID will be used for tracking people

After many months, we now see the true colors of the Unique Identity (UID) number that Nilekani is so keen to foist on the Indian public. At a function organized by the Indo American Chamber of Commerce, he admitted that the real motivation for the UID was to track people. He also said that in time, if someone didn’t have a UID, that would in itself be suspicious.

Long ago, it was feared that the UID will be used for mass surveillance. Nilekani goes so far as to say that all hotels might be required to demand a UID from those who stay there – not for purposes of credit or to ensure payment, but simply so that the government will be able to keep track of who is where.

Image Credit: Aquila

Mass surveillance around the corner with the UID

Mass surveillance around the corner with the UID

The obvious question is, where will this stop? If hotels demand a UID before you can stay in them, will it be long before a theater asks for it before you can watch a movie? Even worse, can a policeman randomly stop you on the road and ask for it as well? This isn’t the same as being asked forĀ  a driver’s license since not everyone should be allowed to drive if they’re not qualified. But asking for an ID “just to check up on you” is an invasion of privacy. However, since privacy is a legal right in India, I wonder how such procedures would stand up in court.

To assume that the government won’t become more and more intrusive if it has the ability is stupid. Whenever governments get too much power, disaster ensues. We can rest assured that slowly, bit by bit, the uses of this UID will continue to increase and become more and more pervasive if technologically feasible. Most of us still don’t realize how much the loss of privacy will hurt. They will learn once they do lose it. In that way, this whole experiment is a good thing. It’ll be painful, but it might just be the start of an experience that will teach us the value of what we take for granted in a free country like India.

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Comments

  1. @the plasticgraduate
    Thanks for the clarification. Indeed, my biggest fear is that the UID will be more than the SSN in the US instead of "just like it" (which I don't want either, but have no choice really)

    Reply

  2. I agree with you to some extent. While on one hand it may be useful to track down terrorists/mafia/the-wanted, I feel in a country like India where anything is possible, so would be to create duplicate/multiple UIDs. Invariably it would be the innocent/small-time crooks who would end up getting caught (for which the Govt will duly take the praise) and the mafia would continue business without much trouble. There may be more troubles like UID-abuse and thievery! However, a country must progress and this is one way towards a hopefully better future.

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  3. @Sonal
    I just wish I could trust the government. If I did, then this would be a great idea since so much good can come of it.

    But looking at what governments the world over are doing, I don’t have much faith. Power corrupts, and so I feel it’s much better not to give too much power. Ultimately our great politicians will feel that if they can do something easily, they should do it and to hell with privacy implications.

    I don’t think there will be danger of duplicates though. With biometrics involved, it should be trivial to prevent duplicates if each number is linked to fingerprints and iris prints. I find that creepy in itself though. I don’t want some wacko to cut off all my fingers or gouge my eyes out just so that they can appropriate my ID. In the old system, they could just ask and I would tell them whatever they wanted to know – now they have no choice but to maim me!

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  4. They likely have a log of every web site you've been to. Only an incompetent IT department would not be logging this for corporate security and liability purposes.

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    • In reply to Kathey Lippa

      Probably. Privacy and data retention and lapse laws aren't fleshed out in India cause till now we haven't really understood what it means to lose your privacy. That time will come though…

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  5. I think I’ve already posted a comment somewhere in this blog stating the reason why UIDs are implemented in India. We see USA calling for Nation ID cards shortly after 9/11. If it was not for 9/11, it would’nt have been possible for US to take such a draconian measure as it rips away the privacy and freedom of the people . Fast forward to 2011, Americans have lost and are lossing their rights and privacy by the day or by the hour. Where’s it all going? This UID in India, and National ID in US and biometric ID in Mexico or other countries are just the first step to that final goal of implanting RFID microchips on human beings where they can be tracked all over the planet as well as all their personal information including Banking details will be there in the microchip. The terror attacks like US 9/11 and India’s 9/11 and all were a means to that end. If you don’t believe it, listen to Aaron Russo’s interview with Alex Jones. You will get it. In fact, I have written an articl in my blog on this very subject “Say No to UIDs” and its connection with Terrorism, which you can find here..

    http://indian007-newswithviews.blogspot.com/2010/09/some-parallels-between-us-911-and.html

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