The Stream on Al Jazeera covered the Indian government’s Aadhaar identity system yesterday. Get yourself a hot or cold beverage and devote half an hour of your time to this. As you watch it, here are some things to note in the context of the Irish government’s determination to push ahead with their voluntary-but-to-all-intents-and-purposes-mandatory Public Services Card, which we wrote about at length recently. Bear in mind that the only justifications offered by the Irish government for the creation of this identity register and forcing citizens onto it have been something vague about unquantifiable improved efficiency and the most glancing of references to fraud prevention.
+ An Indian government spokesperson pulled out of the broadcast at the last minute. Gaining public trust for population scale identity registers is not helped by evasiveness such as this.
+ There are noticeable parallels between the implementation process used with Aadhaar and with the Irish Public Services Card. Do it piece by piece. Start out with marginalised groups and only roll it out to more affluent groups who will have a stronger voice in the public sphere later.
+ At all costs insist it isn’t a requirement to enroll in the register, while making it increasingly more difficult for citizens to conduct their lives without enrolment.
+ Make it difficult for journalists to access information about the implementation, objectives and success of the scheme. This is not transparency and does not help to build trust in the state as a guardian of personal information.
+ ‘Aadhaar: Ushering in a Commercialized Era of Surveillance in India’, Electronic Frontier Foundation
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