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We're Next: Hillary's Hidden Interest in India's Biometric Identification Project

The U.S. State Department showed immense interest in the Unique Identification (UID) project being implemented by the Government of India and wanted to know details including “the name, model, and version of the biometric collection devices used for the ID.” The office of the Secretary of State, on December 17, 2009, sent a cable (240481: secret/noforn) under the name of Hillary Clinton asking the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi to find out the motivation behind the project and to collect as much information on it as possible. Use in other sectors It was clear from the cable that the U.S. interest in the UID project was not limited to anti-fraud measures. It was keen to know “what is India's strategic plan for utilizing biometric ID card technology in the military, law enforcement, and private sectors.” There was particular interest to know how the biometric card would be used at the borders, ports and airports, and whether it would be used to issue passports. The Embassy in Delhi was asked to find out the following: “Which foreign countries and/or corporations are assisting in the development of the ID card? Which biometric systems (i.e. fingerprints, facial recognition, iris scan, etc.) will be incorporated into the card? What systems, databases, or portals will the named biometric ID card collection devices in India communicate with?” Specific instructions were given to Embassy officials to report on any efforts to ‘“spoof' or defeat biometric enrolment, such as fingerprint alteration.” The State Department impressed on them that their valuable inputs would be “incorporated into a strategic assessment for senior US policymakers on the regional implications in South Asia of the biometric ID program.”

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