India's mass surveillance project should concern us all
Indian society and politics has gone through a tectonic shift and is now in the grip of ‘absolutism’. India is undertaking the world’s largest biometric ID card project – Aadhaar, also dubbed the "the world's biggest mass surveillance project".
In an article published in WIRED Dr Subhajit Basu argues that the government of India seems unaware, or unconcerned, that because of an inadequate legal framework for protecting citizens’ privacy this project will have catastrophic consequences. This obsessive project is obtaining demographic and biometric information and being forced upon Indian citizens, with no choice for an individual to opt-out of the system.
Basu and co-author Rhyea Malick argue that this systemic mass invasion of privacy will diminish people autonomy of decision making: the choice of what to make public or keep private will no longer be theirs. In a high-octane, emotionally charged democracy like India, the fear of backlash will stop individuals from expressing disagreement with the government; they will increasingly self-censor their speech and interactions. Subjecting citizens to greater scrutiny and control will tilt the already imbalanced dynamics between the administration and the citizens, leading to erosion of democracy.