Rohan Venkataramakrishnan at the Centre for Communication Governance: “Can a country’s democratic record indicate whether it is likely to mandate a national biometric identity? Research by scholars at the National Law University, Delhi suggests there may be some correlation, at least to indicate that robust democracies have been more cautious about adopting biometric identity systems.
The Supreme Court’s decision last month upholding a fundamental Right to Privacy for all Indians has put a renewed focus on Aadhaar, India’s 12-digit biometric identity programme that has been criticised for not only violating privacy but also lacking sufficient data protection safeguards. Challenges to the Aadhaar project, in fact, prompted the Supreme Court to take up the question of a Right to Privacy, and the apex court will hear petitions against the unique identity initiative later this year.
Ahead of those hearings, researchers from the Centre for Communication Governance at the National Law University, Delhi sought to look at the adoption of biometric identity systems by countries across the world. While examining whether countries were instituting these Aadhaar-like systems, researchers from the Centre noticed a trend wherein nations with strong biometric identity systems were less likely to have robust democratic governments.
“As we gathered and analysed the data, we noticed an interesting trend where many countries that had strong biometric ID systems, also did not have strong democratic governments,” the researchers said.
So they sought to map out their research, based on data collected primarily from countries within the Commonwealth, measured against their positions on Freedom House’s Freedom in the World index and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy index. The results show a cluster of nations with less freedoms also instituting a biometric system, while others higher up the democracy index do not have similar identity programmes….(More)”.