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Governing ID: India’s Unique Identity Programme

– Centre for Internet and Society India (CIS)

The second case study evaluation of digital identity governance from Shruti Trikanad and Amber Sinha of the Centre for the Internet and Society, India, focuses on the country’s Aadhaar system

By exploring rule of law tests, rights-based tests, and risk-based tests, the authors investigate the use of Aadhaar in India from every angle.

After walking readers through the history of Aadhaar, their conclusions are generally skeptical of the national digital ID system, noting its potential but also current issues with implementation. As Trikanad and Sinha state:

"Even when it works as intended, there are clear demonstrable exclusionary impacts of the ID system."

These “exclusionary impacts” include murky storage plans and uses for biometric data, no options for recourse in the event of misuse of data, and conflicts of interest by the governing body and implementer UIDAI. As the authors comment:

Authentication errors, manual errors and capacity challenges pose significant difficulties, and they all could lead to high human costs of exclusions

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