Physicality and Privacy

I’ve been noticing strange numbers written on the walls outside of most apartment doors, and only recently learned what they mean. Apparently it’s census data, marking the number of occupants in an apartment by physically writing on their wall and attaching an official stamp. In the The States, people would definitely freak out about someone writing on their wall, but I imagine there would also be concerns about the privacy implications of broadcasting how many people live at an address.

Census data is written directly on the walls outside of each apartment door

These kinds of practices are normal here though, perhaps because there are so many people with no standardized national ID system. The physical, local, and ad-hoc solution tends to win out. Another example of this is what I’ve learned about voting in India. Apparently when you cast your ballot you are marked on your fingernail with permanent ink. It’s a physical way to avoid double voting and will grow out before the next election. It also has the same privacy issues since it broadcasts to everyone whether or not you voted.

I’m keeping an eye out for more examples that fit with this kind of pattern in India. Let me know if you’ve heard of others.