Linking biometric databases is good, say India officials. Skeptics abound
Trust in biometrics systems used by the government is in short supply in some parts of India.
The Indian state of Telangana last October piloted e-voting secured by facial recognition via smartphones and blockchain ledgers on the back end.
Now, politicians are on the defensive, denying they allowed the collection of personal data.
There as yet is not comprehensive central government regulation of personal data privacy, according to an article by MediaNama. Given that, some privacy advocates are skeptical of systems and practices that ordinarily would be governed by that regulation.
The government has said that it gathered voter data from India’s Election Commission.
It employed a three-factor authentication process for voters that matched a voter’s name with the national digital ID system Aadhaar, detected liveness and synced an image gathered by the phone with a government database of face biometrics.
The blockchain ledger secured de-identified and encrypted ballots, according to the MediaNama article.
There are skeptics of the need for all the technology just to vote. Facial biometrics are intrusive, some feel and others said paper ballots make more sense because they leave a paper trail.
This week, amendments to the nation’s election laws were approved. Data that is part of the electoral rolls can now be paired voluntarily with biometric Aadhaar accounts.
Officials say they are trying to eliminate voter fraud.
But, according to India’s National Herald newspaper, while the change was recommended by the Election Commission, it was not open to public comment.
The concern in this case is not strictly one of privacy. According to the National Herald, some feel the move was hidden because it will be used to kick targeted voters off the rolls.
The move reportedly has cut 5.5 million from rolls in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
Conversely, by linking voting rolls (open to citizens) with the digital Aadhaar database (of citizen and resident data), some feel that this way, non-citizen residents will end up voting, which is illegal.