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CIA->In-Q-Tel->MongoDB->Aadhaar : Is there a risk for India?

CIA-IQT-MongoDB-AAdharMongoDB, a New York-based technology startup, will possibly help in capturing and analysing data related to the ambitious plan to issue a unique identity number — Aadhaar — to over a billion citizens, in partnership with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The details of the contract were undisclosed.

However, there has been speculations and controversy around the fact that MongoDB is part-funded by the US’ Central Intelligence Agency. As mentioned on the MongoDB’s websiteIn-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit venture capital arm of CIA, is listed as an investor without disclosing the quantum of funding received from it.

The fund’s stated mission is to identify, adapt and deliver innovative technology solutions to support the missions of CIA and the broader US intelligence community.

“Once an investment is made, IQT (the fund) works with the company and the intelligence community partner agency to complete a work program and facilitate solution delivery,” the fund’s website said. The quote describes IQT’s relationship with any company in which it invests in and is not specific to MongoDB.

As far as the relationship of MongoDB with UIDAI is concerned, according to reports, A senior UIDAI official confirmed the agency has entered into an agreement with MongoDB and that the company’s database software is already being used for analysing the pace at which registration of new beneficiaries is taking place.

“The risk exposure because of CIA involvement (could be that) if MongoDB is a data controller, then secret courts and secret court orders could be used to get access to the UID data,” said Sunil Abraham, executive director at the Centre for Internet and Society.

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