Biometric Identification and Privacy
Comparative research prepared by Oxford Pro Bono Publico for the Centre for Law and Policy Research, India (February 2013)
This report was prepared to assist the Centre for Law and Policy Research in drafting a petition to the Supreme Court of India, challenging the constitutional validity of the Unique Identification Number (UID) scheme, otherwise known as the ‘Aadhaar’ scheme. The UID scheme aims to issue all 1.2 billion Indian residents with a universal identification number, linked with biometric and demographic data that will be stored on a centralised database. Three types of biometric data will be collected: facial photographs, finger prints and iris scans. If completed, this will be world’s largest biometric database. However, India currently lacks comprehensive data privacy protection laws and the draft National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 contains limited safeguards. OPBP was asked to prepare research on two questions: a) have biometric identification schemes in other countries been challenged on privacy grounds? and b) in jurisdictions that collect biometric data, what measures are in place to protect citizens’ right to privacy?