Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Indian Supreme Court issues two-pronged UID decision

It's been a while since we've dealt with the topic of India's UID project here. This post picks up with current events. Newer readers can catch up by sifting back through the India label (also located in the post footer).

Nandan Nilekani: Supreme Court decision on Aadhaar vindicates our stand Nandan Nilekani (Economic Times)
Earlier this month, UIDAI approached the Apex Court, challenging a Bombay High Court order which had ordered the Agency to share biometric data to help solve an ongoing criminal investigation.

But it's hard to see how this part of the Supreme Court decision isn't a set-back.

SC: Withdraw Orders Making Aadhaar Must for any Service (Indian Express)
In a clear direction that a person’s information is private and cannot be misused, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to withdraw immediately the instruction, if any, issued by it for making Aadhaar card mandatory for citizens to avail of government services...
If UID is going to bring the power of biometrics to radically curtail the use of ghost recipients of direct transfers, making it mandatory could certainly help. Then again, there are other incentives that can be brought to bear. Most people would rather get a subsidy for propane directly deposited into a bank account rather than wait in line at a government store.

Also, putting a legal wall between the welfare system and criminal justice system should increase participation.