Reportage on a planet without equitable or sustainable development.
Civil Liberties in an Age of Biometrics
Biometrics are the latest craze in Delhi’s crumbling corridors of power. The census department is capturing them. So is the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). As are a myriad others – banking correspondents, state governments, government programmes like the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, the ministry of rural development for NREGA workers, the home ministry in India’s coastal areas, etc…
…It seems safe to say that, sooner or later, we will all share our fingerprints, iris scans, what have you, with one or more institutions.
Sadly, even as opinion has converged inside government about the desirability of using biometrics, there has been little discussion about the safeguards that need to accompany this transition to biometrics. Think about it. Till now, privacy asserted our rights over our thoughts and interactions with others. Biometrics, on the other hand, capture and share information about our bodies.
I am an Indian journalist with interests in energy, environment, climate and India’s ongoing slide into right-wing authoritarianism. My book, Despite the State, an examination of pervasive state failure and democratic decay in India, was published by Westland Publications, India, in January 2021. My work has won the Bala Kailasam Memorial Award; the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award; and five Shriram Awards for Excellence in Financial Journalism. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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