The real opposition, however, comes from parties who strongly criticize the program's lack of proper oversight. A standing committee within India's Parliament made strong queries about the legal legitimacy of the UIDAI's plans based on the fact that, to date, no bill has been passed authorizing UID's implementation. The project has gone ahead with government approval in the form of an executive order (which provides the authority to implement a program without Parliament's approval), but the bill in question still needs to be passed by Parliament to have complete legislative authority.
Usha Ramanathan, an eminent lawyer, activist, and known critic of the UID system, also contends that using biometrics is a flawed approach in an economy as labor-intensive as India's. The fingerprints of the poor are frequently unrecognizable, she points out, since they are worn down by a lifetime of harsh labor.
There is also the concern that, given India's comparatively weak data privacy laws, the UIDAI grants the state too much power. Ramanathan asserts that UID "would make every citizen transparent to the state including basic information about health, work, bank transactions, and migration via the UID number." Privacy activists are worried that the government could use this data to monitor all the transactional activities of its citizens, especially those who are hostile to the government. In a country known for pervasive corruption and poor governance, this is not an idle concern.
Ramanathan goes on to mention that the identification system could be misused to benefit commercial ventures. Private banks, for example, might be interested in purchasing citizen data in order to promote insurance and banking operations. Politicians, too, might be tempted to use UID applications to covertly send bribes to mass numbers of potential voters, a gimmick that many already partake in through other means.
Nandan Nilekani, the chairman of UIDAI, responds by reminding critics that "criticism of a technology platform on the basis of criticism of an application is unfair and ill-conceived." UIDAI argues for its reliability by referring to the data-sharing policy that it is bound by, which prioritizes protecting the identity of individuals enrolled in the system. But this is not enough. With a rapidly emerging middle class, India and the world are bound to be concerned by data theft, especially without robust legislation from Parliament first to approve and legitimate UID, and then to enhance support systems such as data privacy regulations.