ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Hans Verghese MathewsSubscribe to Hans Verghese Mathews

Writing Technology-neutral Law

The regulation of “biotechnology” seems to present legislative diffi culties of another kind. The Government of India proposes to institute a biotechnology regulatory authority—the Human DNA Profi ling Bill 2015—for the purpose of collating the DNA information of citizens so as to strengthen the criminal justice process and system. However, the regulation of such technology needs to be technologically neutral and requires safeguards against any information abuse and exploitation on the part of the “experts” and “specialists” appointed to the new regulatory institution governing biotechnology.

Request for Specifics: Rebuttal to UIDAI

Responding to the Unique Identification Authority of India’s article that found “serious mathematical errors” in “Flaws in the UIDAI Process” (EPW 12 March 2016), the main mathematical argument used to arrive at the number of duplicates in the biometric database is explained.

Flaws in the UIDAI Process

The accuracy of biometric identification depends on the chance of a false positive: the probability that the identifiers of two persons will match. Individuals whose identifiers match might be termed duplicands. When very many people are to be identified success can be measured by the (low) proportion of duplicands. The Government of India is engaged upon biometrically identifying the entire population of India. An experiment performed at an early stage of the programme has allowed us to estimate the chance of a false positive: and from that to estimate the proportion of duplicands. For the current population of 1.2 billion the expected proportion of duplicands is 1/121, a ratio which is far too high.
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