India’s pioneering national biometric ID program is winning praise from the World Bank, reports Bloomberg.
While Aadhaar can still be controversial with respect to privacy issues, it also appears to be offering compelling benefits to government authorities and the population alike. By facilitating access to government services, subsidy programs, and even everyday economic activity, “a digital identification system such as India’s Aadhaar… helps willing governments to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups,” according to the World Bank’s World Development Report 2016. Elaborating on the sentiment, World Bank chief economist Paul Romer is quoted by Bloomberg as stating, “The system in India is the most sophisticated that I’ve seen,” adding, “It could be good for the world if this became widely adopted.”
Bloomberg also cites Infosys co-founder and former UIDAI head Nandan Nilekani as stating that officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Tanzania have visited India to discuss Aadhaar, while India’s telecom regulator, R.S. Sharma, has reportedly said that Algeria, Morocco, Russia, and Tunisia have shown interest.
There are problems, of course. Besides the aforementioned privacy concerns, there is also the issue that Indian citizens’ biometric data gets stored in Aadhaar databases, making it vulnerable to hacks; the UIDAI, which administrates Aadhaar, was recently compelled to clarify that no biometric data had been breached after reports of abuse of the Aadhaar system. But the program also offers benefits that are apparently quite obvious to the numerous governments that have interest, the World Bank, and the foreign businesses that are starting to integrate their services with Aadhaar.
Source: Bloomberg Politics
March 16, 2017 – by Alex Perala