January 27, 2012
Let’s ask the professors UIDAI cited in its latest report: Do you agree with UIDAI’s assessment of Aadhaar? Do you share their confidence in the project? Did UIDAI ask you in advance, before using your name for their marketing purposes?
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) have been accused of making false claims about the reliability of the biometrics that its unique identification number (UID) or Aadhaar scheme relies on. The report released earlier this week by UIDAI is in response to those criticisms.
UIDAI say that “… based on the analysis, it can be stated with confidence that UIDAI enrolment system has proven to be reliable, accurate and scalable to meet the nation’s need of providing unique Aadhaar numbers to the entire population. It is now safe to conclude that the system will be able to scale to handle the entire population”. But that is mere assertion, it begs the question, they would say that, wouldn’t they.
They need independent and respected biometrics experts to agree with them, if this report is to boost confidence in UIDAI’s abilities. They mention several names. The casual reader may assume that these named experts all agree with UIDAI’s conclusion that Aadhaar will work. It would be instructive to ring them up and ask them directly for their opinion.
Does Professor John Daugman, for example, agree with UIDAI when they say that “… although [the false positive identification rate of 0.057%] is expected to grow as the database size increases, it is not expected to exceed manageable values even at full enrolment of 120 crores”? It seems unlikely—Professor Daugman is the man who first pointed out that any attempt to prove uniqueness in a large population of biometrics must drown in a sea of false positives, please see id-card-will-drown-in-a-billion-mismatches-39294213
And does Professor Jim Wayman, for example, agree with UIDAI when they say that “… based on the [receiver operating characteristic] model, the UIDAI expects the accuracy of the system to remain within the same order of magnitude as reported above. Hence it can be stated that system will be able to scale to handle the entire population without significant drop in accuracy”? It seems unlikely—Professor Wayman is the lead author of a paper which concludes that biometrics is a discipline out of statistical control, the results gathered so far tell you nothing about what to expect in future, please see FundamentalIssues_Final.pdf
If the two professors agree with UIDAI and renounce their earlier statements, well and good.
But if, on the other hand, they say that they have no reason to believe that UIDAI is right, they have not had a chance to assess the evidence that UIDAI claims to have, they do not understand why UIDAI has mentioned their names, then this schoolboy attempt to justify UIDAI’s waste of public money will fall humiliatingly flat on its face.
(David Moss spent eight years campaigning against the UK’s National ID (NID) card scheme, which was finally scrapped by the British government. Mr Moss is an MA in Philosophy from Cambridge University, MSc in Software Engineering from Kingston. With a career spanning of over 35 years, Mr Moss at present works as director at Business Consultancy Services Ltd and can be contacted at email@example.com.)
by- Sucheta Dalal http://www.suchetadalal.com/
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- UID project row: Compromise on cards today? (ibnlive.in.com)
- Enrolment saga – Usha Ramanathan (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Creation of UIDAI number cards halted in Jharkhand (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Cabinet may take final call on future of UIDAI (ibnlive.in.com)
- State Govt Should Put a Stay on Aadhaar/UID Project & Biometric based NPR for MNIC after Parliamentary Committee Report (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Setback to UID – Usha Ramanathan (kractivist.wordpress.com)