#Aadhaar: UIDAI cannot make any assertion about the uniqueness of identity, RTI reply shows
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that is operating the Aadhaar numbering scheme for residents, is unable to make any assertion about the uniqueness of its database, reveals information received under Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Dr Anupam Saraph has filed the RTI seeking information on unique names, addresses, mobile numbers, email IDs, biometrics and documents in the UIDAI's Central ID Repository (CIDR) database. Replying to the RTI, UIDAI said, "No such information is available or maintained by UIDAI, RO, Mumbai."
"This clearly indicates that the Unique Identification Authority is unable to make any assertion about the uniqueness of its database. The UIDAI is unable to provide simple information that would be essential to establish if the database is better than the other databases that it is claiming to 'purify'," says Dr Saraph, a renowned expert in governance of complex systems, who also advises governments and businesses across the world.
The UIDAI has confirmed that it has no information about the number of unique biometrics or names in its database, a prerequisite to be able to de-duplicate the database.
Dr Saraph, in his RTI application sought information about...
1. The number of unique names in the UIDAI CIDR
2. The number of unique addresses in the UIDAI CIDR
3. The number of unique mobile numbers in the UIDAI CIDR
4. The number of unique email ids in the UIDAI CIDR
5. The number of unique biometrics in the UIDAI CIDR
6. The number of unique documents associated with Aadhaar numbers in the UIDAI CIDR
7. The number of non-unique names in the UIDAI CIDR
8. The number of non-unique addresses in the UIDAI CIDR
9. The number of non-unique mobile numbers in the UIDAI CIDR
10. The number of non-unique email ids in the UIDAI CIDR
11. The number of non-unique biometrics in the UIDAI CIDR
12. The number of non-unique documents associated with Aadhaar numbers in the UIDAI CIDR
Dr Saraph says, as per the reply received under RTI, the UIDAI does not know the number of unique and non-unique documents used as proof of identity, proof of birth date and proof of address in its database. “This information would be necessary to estimate the ghosts and duplicates that were generated by providing the same documents multiple times or not providing any documents,” he added.
The UIDAI is also unable to state the number of unique addresses. Knowing the number of unique addresses would be necessary to recognise the number of households that the government may be required to target benefits and subsidies to. Knowing the number of non-unique addresses would establish number of individuals in the database that co-habit with other individuals.
The UIDAI has no information about the number of unique mobile numbers in its database, however it has been treating the mobile number as an alias for the Aadhaar number and formulating programs of financial inclusion based on mobile phones, designing authentication with OTP or updation procedures that require a mobile number.
"It claims to provide authentication alerts on email IDs and mobile phones but does not know how many persons are excluded from alerts because they lack mobiles or email IDs. Without having information about the number of non-unique (or shared mobile numbers or email IDs) the government is in no position to assume that individuals in its Aadhaar database can be reached using mobile phones or email IDs," Dr Saraph says.
"This information should have been available on a dashboard of the UIDAI if the UIDAI's purpose is to help the government to target subsidies and benefits," Dr Saraph said, adding, "It is evident that the Aadhaar database is not able to provide any basis or establish any confidence to serve as a way to inform the government to target any subsidies or benefits. It is absurd that the UIDAI claims to reach out to 120 crore residents and provide information about them, to provide them with benefits and subsidies, when it cannot provide mesa-data about its own database. The quality of this entire database is called to question considering that the UIDAI does not have meta-data about its own database."
Earlier, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Chief Executive (CEO) of UIDAI, while making a presentation before the five-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, had claimed that there can be no false positive de-duplicates because there is also a manual override process in UIDAI about Aadhaar. In addition, he stated, "Once biometrics reaches CIDR, it can never be shared on any ground whatsoever except for national security under Section 33. Over the past one and a half years, we have not received any request for biometrics from government or anyone."