Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Cellphones Government Security Software

'Big Brother' In India Requires Fingerprint Scans For Food, Phones, Finances (nytimes.com) 132

The New York Times reports of the Indian government's intent to build an identification system of unprecedented scope. The country is reportedly "scanning the fingerprints, eyes and faces of its 1.3 billion residents (alternative source) and connecting the data to everything from welfare benefits to mobile phones." Here's an excerpt from the report: Civil libertarians are horrified, viewing the program, called Aadhaar, as Orwell's Big Brother brought to life. To the government, it's more like "big brother," a term of endearment used by many Indians to address a stranger when asking for help. For other countries, the technology could provide a model for how to track their residents. And for India's top court, the ID system presents unique legal issues that will define what the constitutional right to privacy means in the digital age. The government has made registration mandatory for hundreds of public services and many private ones, from taking school exams to opening bank accounts.

Technology has given governments around the world new tools to monitor their citizens. In China, the government is rolling out ways to use facial recognition and big data to track people, aiming to inject itself further into everyday life. Many countries, including Britain, deploy closed-circuit cameras to monitor their populations. But India's program is in a league of its own, both in the mass collection of biometric data and in the attempt to link it to everything -- traffic tickets, bank accounts, pensions, even meals for undernourished schoolchildren.

'Big Brother' In India Requires Fingerprint Scans For Food, Phones, Finances

Comments Filter:
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @01:21PM (#56402267)
    about what India's ruling class does to maintain their status. Or what any country's ruling class does to maintain their status.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is probably to stop people from abusing the system.

      In the US we have food banks all over the place to help people.

      I know at least 4 different people that try to rope my wife into going into them and saying she has 4 kids. Just to get 'free food' on top of their existing EBT cards. This sort of 'crime' is wildly common unfortunately. One dude I knew had a job and makes payments on 2 cars (he is single and lives by himself). STILL does this.

      The food banks usually quickly go under due to lack of resourc

      • by anegg ( 1390659 )

        I don't know why the parent was marked down to -1. The poster has expressed his/her opinion of why the Indian government may want to establish a form of identification/authentication tied directly to individuals, and cited examples of potential fraud in the US system that by analogy are relevant.

        I have personally observed similar instances of potential fraud, and have had other instances related to me, so the poster's observations appear valid and relevant to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We are getting it here in the west too. I live in Sweden and its getting increasingly difficult to communicate with government run services with out a "mobile ID" (which is made by a private firm and requires a newish smartphone BTW) even riding a bus requires a "smartphone" and you have to show a valid ID to ride a train.... Strangely you can still fly in Europe without showing an ID, its easier to get on a plane incognito than a local bus...

    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      Stop lying.

      You want to communicate with government services? Use your phone - yes even a dumb phone or a land line would work. Or download some papers and send away. Or go to local branches of whatever you want to communicate with and ask for some assistance.

    • We are getting it here in the west too. I live in Sweden and its getting increasingly difficult to communicate with government run services with out a "mobile ID" (which is made by a private firm and requires a newish smartphone BTW) even riding a bus requires a "smartphone" and you have to show a valid ID to ride a train.... Strangely you can still fly in Europe without showing an ID, its easier to get on a plane incognito than a local bus...

      You can still communicate with every government run service by oldschool phone, and the kind of mail you put a stamp on. Bank ID isn't just for mobiles, but you'd need a windows computer. Tickets for public transportation can be bought with cash. Afaik every airline in Europe demand that you have a valid ID to show upon request.

    • Strangely you can still fly in Europe without showing an ID, its easier to get on a plane incognito than a local bus...

      It depends on where you are travelling to; even some Schengen-area countries have re-imposed ID checks - France, for example.

    • by Kiuas ( 1084567 )

      I live in Sweden and its getting increasingly difficult to communicate with government run services with out a "mobile ID"

      Finn here; we use e-banking credentials (all of which are required by law to use 2-step authentication) lo log in and identify to government services like filing taxes etc. There's a notable difference between requiring a trustworthy method for people to identify themselves in order to access their own personal information stored and handled by the government and requiring fingerprints

  • Fuck India (Score:1, Troll)

    by AndyKron ( 937105 )
    Fuck India.
    • by Memnos ( 937795 )

      Umm.. you realize that's probably not necessary. They're obviously already doing a lot of fucking just amongst themselves.

  • scan 1.3 billion, edit the list, unlisted or nonlisted save some wasted food...
    make that 1.25 billion....

    start a war, or announce new taxes and onerous collection, listen for protests, edit the list,
    make that 1.24 billion....
    give extra food to supporters
    make that 1.31 billion....

    see how that works ?
  • ... they haven't resorted to tracking their citizens when overseas. [wikipedia.org] India's government are a bunch of pikers when it comes to real surveillance of their populace.

  • Unlike liberal liberals I see nothing wrong in this. In fact I think it's great.

    In switzerland you notify your local community office that you moved in and everyone gets notified of the change (including your bank). Same when you leave. Everyone who cares knows you left and your new place of abode.
    If you can do other things with it like make people pay their parking tickets or notify next of kin of some mishap then great.

    • Re:That's great (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cinnamon Beige ( 1952554 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @03:03PM (#56402677)

      India still has a caste system going nice and strong--several of the things that 'Big Brother' here is intended to do would work very, very well for ensuring people will have a very difficult time attempting to escape their preordained proper place (such as daring to want to have a job that wasn't dirty, dangerous and demeaning), punish those who try anyway, and probably also cull the population.

      Oh, and they've got problems like people being legally dead when they're not being deceased. Admittedly, this system will ensure that such errors are quickly fixed...by blocking the legally dead person from access to the basic necessities of life.

      Any system which makes it so the state can (intentionally or by accident) prevent you from being able to obtain basic necessities for yourself is not a good one, especially if it'd be possible to pretend your genocide is just a massive clerical error that merely happened to take you years to correct.

      RTFAing says that one of the benefits they're claiming is that this will fix India's endemic government corruption. The only way to get rid of corruption in the state is to ensure that corrupt officials are likely to be caught, that the penalty is significant, and that there is as little benefit to being corrupt as possible. (The more power they have, the better the odds need to be of a corrupt official being the guest of honor at a surprise necktie party.)

      • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] should solve corruption in India

  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @02:20PM (#56402513)
    That political windbag Modi claims it will root out corruption. Maybe. Corruption in India is simply a way to work around bad government. It might remove some corruption, but it won't fix the underlying problem of a useless government and corruption at the higher levels.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @02:22PM (#56402521) Homepage

    All sorts of official activity here in Norway is linked to my "fødselsnummer", essentially my DOB + a 5-digit code to make it unique assigned at birth. Immigrants and others with business in Norway get a D-number which is the same only in a different number series. Can't open a bank account, can't pay taxes, can't own property, can't really do anything official without it. That was all well and good, but then the US started pushing for biometric passports and around here a country is the size of a US state so practically everybody has to have a passport. So since 2010 that all goes into a big database and since you have to renew them every ten years it's now pretty much the entire population. The only thing that prevent them from using it like in India is the law, all the data is already connected and linked.

    • The only thing that prevent them from using it like in India is the law, all the data is already connected and linked.

      I'm sure our best people will be happy to teach your law enforcement all about parallel construction. (I imagine we're probably better at it than most, because most of the places it's scarier to be than the USA don't bother justifying what they're doing.)

    • That sounds a lot like the Social Security Number that we have in the United States. Unfortunately there is nothing secure about it and wasn't intended to be a defacto password to your identity but everyone uses it like that anyway. Once someone has stolen your social security number they can pretty much take over your life.
  • by jarkus4 ( 1627895 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @02:27PM (#56402537)

    This system has been working for a long while. It had already went through massive data leaks in 2017

  • by Daneel Olivaw R. ( 5113539 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @02:29PM (#56402543)
    In singapore it was called Nric/FIN, linked to tax, bank, mobile, all govt services and then I first came to sweden, I had restricted to my new swedish bank account among other things till I got "swedish id" card. It is used everywhere from new house search, new mobile number, authentication in any swedish service (not just govt services, include insurance/ investment / share market/ etc.) TBH, I find having this convenient so I do not have to register in multiple places. I understand the concern about hacks like equifax one. There is a solution for that Blockchain based stuff like "civic" (yes, you hate blockchain I get it) In india's case, it helps with reducing corruption already (no, you can't have oversight without data and some centralized way to identify what the whole population does), and authorizing myself with fingerprint in a bank is kinda convenient considering the fact the each of my signature is unique despite my best effort to duplicate. My point is, NYT tends to blow things out of proposition and whatever is happening in india has already been done in at least sg and sweden and I have not seen any outraged articles about that. My point is
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The meals for undernourished children do not reach the undernourished children. Biometric verification will ensure that the food was really fed to the child and not sold out for money. If you've got a tougher idea then please reply.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How would that work? 'All undernourished, line up and get a plate of food when you've passed the fingerprint scanner'?

      With corruption, it'll be 'All undernourished, line up for the fingerprint scanner'. Then they get a quarter plate of food, the rest being sold for profit. Or perhaps they organize it like a lottery, so a few of those scanned 'wins' some food. With stricter control, the kid gets his plate of food, but will have to 'donate' most of it around the corner if he don't want to be hit with that ba

  • 'Big Brother' In India Requires Fingerprint Scans For Food, Phones, Finances

    Wow. Foreign TV shows [wikipedia.org] are weird.

  • Fingerprint and photograph as part of your ID has been obligatory in my country for at least 70 years. And you need your ID to indentfy yourself for like.. everthing. I just can't see what's the big deal of making that digital. It looks pretty innevitable actually.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's because you're a sheep or a shill or both.
      This is the definition of evil. A government exists for the people. Not just the people who are "lawful citizens", but all the people within it's borders that it is privileged enough to serve. If it doesn't want to serve certain people, it should eject those people and simply cite the racism of the majority.

      Government exists because some things are easier to handle as a large group and thus it maintains a monopoly on violence and monopoly on justice. If y

  • by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @07:37PM (#56403607)
    Each new Indian government seems to obsessed with showing the rest of the world that India is an advanced, leading-edge country. And every new Indian government neglects doing anything much about the conditions of more than 600 million (and growing) Indian citizens who lack access to such basic services as running water, electricity and sanitation. Really strange, and unfair to those unfortunate Indians.
  • Fro what I can read, the 'food' part is free food that they get. I do not think it to be way to strange to see that people do not abuse the system. The scanning of the ID is done, as far as I can see, instead of having an ID card.

    In Belgium having an ID card is mandatory since at least WWII and perhaps longer. (Napoleon?). If you want to open a bank account, you will need to have an ID and if you open a credit (e.g. a bank account that you can go below 0 EUR) you will be registered at the National Bank.(No,

    • If you want to open a bank account, you will need to have an ID ...
      ... if you open a credit ... you will be registered at the National Bank ...
      If you want to buy a phone, you need to have an ID ...

      ... if people receive benefits from the state (and that is what we are talking about) ...

      One who opens an account with a private bank does not "receive benefits from the state".

      One who purchases a phone from a private retailer, and receives wireless service from a private telecommunications provider, does not "receive benefits from the state".

      Requiring ID to prove that one qualifies for tax-subsidized welfare programs is one thing. Mandating state-issued ID for private services is an entirely different matter. (Nationalising banking and telecommunications services such that there is no private

  • Horrifyingly wrong.
    Not a future I'd want any part of.
    I wish the Indian opponents of this the best of luck stopping it.
    • not really, these people want to sponge off others, they have no right to complain of needing to be on file to combat fraud and double dipping. It's the price one pays to be a parasite

      • Ah I see, 'one bad apple ruins the whole bushel', is that it? One person in 1,000,000 doesn't follow the rules, so everyone then gets to be treated like a convict?
        Oh and of course people who think like you, when this comes to your country, will be shocked and appalled when they're required to be subjected to it, because you somehow magically think you'll be exempted from it, like you're special or something. Well guess what? You'll be treated like a convict or an animal in a zoo like everyone else, and you
        • What are you blathering about, this is for welfare recipients. I am one of the people who pays the bills. It's long overdue here, the fraud is rampant and much higher than your made-up stat you pulled out of your ass.

          • The country is reportedly "scanning the fingerprints, eyes and faces of its 1.3 billion residents (alternative source) and connecting the data to everything from welfare benefits to mobile phones."

            Try reading at least the headline before shooting your mouth off, idiot.

            • those phone number are for part of receiving welfare benefits. There have been article here before about that including Facebook trying Indian system for user ID, but you have the attention span and intellectual capabilities of a gnat

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

Working...