A study argues that there is too much uncertainty in biometrics to predict how well the technology will perform in the real world, much less support investment in this technology
Three scholars who have provided the academic foundation for the biometrics industry, particularly in the Western world, say that the level of uncertainty in biometrics is so great that tests prove nothing.
The academicians have, in a paper titled "Fundamental issues in biometric performance testing: A modern statistical and philosophical framework for uncertainty assessment", argued that the level of uncertainty in biometrics is so great that they cannot be used to predict how well the technology will perform in the real world and therefore this cannot support a valid argument for investment in biometrics.
The academicians are James L Wayman from San José State University, Antonio Possolo, head of the statistical engineering division at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Anthony J Mansfield from UK National Physical Laboratory, all recognised as stalwarts of the biometrics industry.
However, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which has embarked on a tagging programme that is based on biometrics, is silent on the report. The institution has, till now, been quick to associate with other academic groups.
While UIDAI claims that biometrics will allow it to deliver a unique identification, it has goofed up its own test results while pushing its ambitious Aadhaar project. (Read, 'How UIDAI goofed up pilot test results to press forward with UID scheme'.)
Since its inception, UIDAI has tried to force the use of biometrics for the UID number as the ultimate solution. UIDAI conducted a proof of the concept trial of the Aadhaar project between March and June 2010. The results of the concept trial, or scenario test, suggest that biometrics cannot be reliable and may encounter huge problems while dealing with false positives.
David Moss, who spent eight years campaigning against the UK's National ID (NID) card scheme, sees hard times ahead for the global mass consumer biometrics industry. He said, "Not only has the industry lost its academic support, but governments are starting to abandon ship. President Obama's plans for trusted identity on the web make no mention of biometrics. The same goes for the UK's plans for identity assurance, in which case also there is no mention of relying on biometrics at all."
"The superstitious belief in mass consumer biometrics is like an illness, it's like the tulip mania that affected Holland in the 17th century. And now, perhaps, it is passing. Even in Holland, where they announced last month that they have suspended their plans to develop a centralised population register recording every person's biometrics," Mr Moss said.
There are three types of tests used for biometrics. One is the lab or technology test; the other is the operational or field test; and the third is a scenario test. A biometrics technology test is conducted in the lab and is entirely computer-based. An operational test is conducted in the field, in the real world, with the biometrics package coming under attack from different, unpredictable sets. In a scenario test, researchers recruit a putatively representative sample of the population so that they can test the biometrics packages with real people under still fairly controllable conditions. The UIDAI used the scenario test for UID.
On the scenario test, the three academicians write, "The test repeatability and reproducibility observed in technology tests are lost in scenario testing due to the loss of statistical control over a wide range of influence quantities. Our inability to apply concepts of statistical control to any or all of these factors will increase the level of uncertainty in our results and translate to loss of both repeatability and reproducibility. Test data from scenario evaluations should not be used as input to mathematical models of operational environments that require high levels of certainty for validity."
This exactly is the reason why governments across the globe are not emphasising on biometrics anymore. Last year, the newly-elected government in the UK scrapped the National ID programme citing huge costs, impracticality and ungovernable breaches of privacy associated with the programme. Last month, the US released its 'National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace' signed by president Obama and nowhere has the 45-page document used the word 'biometrics'.
Also in April, the Dutch government suspended its plan to develop a centralised flat print fingerprint population register, citing concerns about security and reliability of the system.
However, this is not the case with India, where it seems that there is ample money and nobody cares about security, reliability and privacy, and everybody from politicians, corporates to the media are 'greased', directly or indirectly. This is the reason why UIDAI is forcing the UID number onto gullible citizens.
"Why is India spending billions on Aadhaar, which depends on biometrics whose reliability is, so say the titans, utterly unknowable? And will the UIDAI ever answer my question how they can claim to offer unique identification when, based on their own figures, they would have to perform 18,000,000,000,000 (18 trillion or 18 lakh crore) manual checks to prove uniqueness? And why do they think Aadhaar will eradicate corruption, rather than automate corruption," asks Mr Moss.
You may also want to read…
The court also took into account CBI’s apprehensions that the accused, if released on bail at this stage, may influence the witnesses as many of them are employed in their companies
New Delhi: Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, an accused in second generation (2G) spectrum allocation scam, was today refused bail by a Delhi court which said he has failed to “make out a case” for his release from jail in view of the apprehension that witnesses could be influenced, reports PTI.
Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge OP Saini, exclusively dealing with the 2G case, also dismissed the bail pleas of Mr Balwa’s cousin, Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal, accused of facilitating Rs200 crore bribe to Kalaignar TV in which DMK MP Kanimozhi holds a 20% share.
“Considering the magnitude of the crime, nature and enormity of the allegations, character of evidence on record and the apprehension that the witnesses may be influenced in case if the accused are released on bail, I have no hesitation in holding that accused have failed to make out a case for bail. Bail applications are without merits and the same are dismissed,” the judge said.
The court also took into account CBI’s apprehensions that the accused, if released on bail at this stage, may influence the witnesses as many of them are employed in their companies.
“As such, when there is relationship of employer and employee between the accused and the witnesses or the accused is comparatively in an advantageous position, economically and financially vis-à-vis the witnesses, such an apprehension cannot be dismissed as unfounded,” the judge noted.
Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal are directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd in which Shahid Balwa also holds a stake.
The court said the allegation against the three accused are “grave” and there are supporting evidence on record against them.
“I have extracted in detail the facts of the case, nature of allegations against the accused persons, role played by them and the evidence on record.
“The same requires no detailed discussion and the facts are self-speaking. As such, there are grave allegations against all three accused and there is supporting evidence also on record,” the court said.
While pressing for Shahid Balwa's bail, advocate Majid Mammon had submitted before the court that his client had already been interrogated and if he is kept in custody, he may not be able to defend himself properly.
“The record of the case is voluminous and its disposal may take substantial time and the accused cannot be kept in custody indefinitely,” Mr Majid had argued.
He had contended that allegations against Shahid Balwa were false and he had to suffer loss. He added that the state exchequer suffered no loss and the grant of letter of intents (LoIs), UAS licences and spectrum were as per the policy of the government of India.
Special public prosecutor UU Lalit had opposed his bail plea saying that the case is of grave nature and while seeking bail, the accused have to make out a case for bail.
Mr Lalit had also referred to the facts as to how the cut-off date was changed, control of Swan Telecom was transferred and how the grant of LoIs, licences and spectrum were manipulated.
Deliberations on allowing insurance companies to list on the bourses have been going on between capital markets regulator SEBI and IRDA for nearly three years now
New Delhi: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has sought the Life Insurance Council’s views on a revised draft of the proposed new guidelines for initial public offers (IPOs) by insurers, reports PTI.
Sources said the insurance regulator has sent a revised copy of the draft IPO guidelines to the council, seeking its comments prior to finalisation of the IPO guidelines for life insurance companies.
Deliberations on allowing insurance companies to list on the bourses have been going on between capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and IRDA for nearly three years now.
SEBI had in October last year given the go-ahead to insurance companies for coming out with IPOs. Under the current SEBI law, companies which have a track record of three successive years profit and have been in business for 10 years are allowed to list on the bourses.
Several of the insurance joint ventures, including Reliance Life, are about to complete 10 years of operations in India, while HDFC Standard Life and ICICI Prudential Life have already completed a decade of business here.
At present, besides state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), 22 private companies are offering life insurance policies. Over the last 10 years, the industry’s assets grew seven-fold to over Rs14 lakh crore.
As per the disclosure norms in the offer document mandated by SEBI, the insurers would have to disclose risk factors specific to their companies.
Also, the offer document would have a glossary of terms used in the insurance sector.