uid

When I opposed Aadhaar in 2010 , I was called a BJP stooge. In 2016 I am still opposing Aadhaar for the same reasons and I am told I am a Congress die hard. No one wants to see why I oppose Aadhaar as it is too difficult. Plus Aadhaar is FREE so why not get one ? Ram Krishnaswamy

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mahatma Gandhi

In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. Mahatma Gandhi

“The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21. The right to privacy is not a guaranteed under the constitution, because privacy is not a fundamental right.” Article 21 of the Indian constitution refers to the right to life and liberty -Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi

“There is merit in the complaints. You are unwittingly allowing snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation. The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.” -A three judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said in an interim order.

Legal scholar Usha Ramanathan describes UID as an inverse of sunshine laws like the Right to Information. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizen, the UID does the inverse: it makes the citizen transparent to the state, she says.

Good idea gone bad
I have written earlier that UID/Aadhaar was a poorly designed, unreliable and expensive solution to the really good idea of providing national identification for over a billion Indians. My petition contends that UID in its current form violates the right to privacy of a citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is because sensitive biometric and demographic information of citizens are with enrolment agencies, registrars and sub-registrars who have no legal liability for any misuse of this data. This petition has opened up the larger discussion on privacy rights for Indians. The current Article 21 interpretation by the Supreme Court was done decades ago, before the advent of internet and today’s technology and all the new privacy challenges that have arisen as a consequence.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha

“What is Aadhaar? There is enormous confusion. That Aadhaar will identify people who are entitled for subsidy. No. Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t,” Jairam Ramesh

But Aadhaar has been mythologised during the previous government by its creators into some technology super force that will transform governance in a miraculous manner. I even read an article recently that compared Aadhaar to some revolution and quoted a 1930s historian, Will Durant. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

“I know you will say that it is not mandatory. But, it is compulsorily mandatorily voluntary,” Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Saba April 2017


Special

Here is what the Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, which examined the draft N I A Bill said.

1. There is no feasibility study of the project]

2. The project was approved in haste

3. The system has far-reaching consequences for national security

4. The project is directionless with no clarity of purpose

5. It is built on unreliable and untested technology

6. The exercise becomes futile in case the project does not continue beyond the present number of 200 million enrolments

7. There is lack of coordination and difference of views between various departments and ministries of government on the project

Quotes

What was said before the elections:

NPR & UID aiding Aliens – Narendra Modi

"I don't agree to Nandan Nilekeni and his madcap (UID) scheme which he is trying to promote," Senior BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha, Sept 2012

"All we have to show for the hundreds of thousands of crore spent on Aadhar is a Congress ticket for Nilekani" Yashwant Sinha.(27/02/2014)

TV Mohandas Pai, former chief financial officer and head of human resources, tweeted: "selling his soul for power; made his money in the company wedded to meritocracy." Money Life Article

Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government - Home Minister Chidambaram

To refer to Aadhaar as an anti corruption tool despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary is mystifying. That it is now officially a Rs.50,000 Crores solution searching for an explanation is also without any doubt. -- Statement by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP & Member, Standing Committee on Finance

Finance minister P Chidambaram’s statement, in an exit interview to this newspaper, that Aadhaar needs to be re-thought completely is probably the last nail in its coffin. :-) Financial Express

The Rural Development Ministry headed by Jairam Ramesh created a road Block and refused to make Aadhaar mandatory for making wage payment to people enrolled under the world’s largest social security scheme NRGA unless all residents are covered.


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Friday, October 2, 2015

8786 - A Shaky Aadhaar by Rajeev Chandrasekhar - Indian Express

A Shaky Aadhaar

Concerns over data security and privacy in the programme must be addressed.

Written by Rajeev Chandrasekhar | Updated: October 1, 2015 4:07 am

The Central Identities Data Repository, which is under the UIDAI, is a centralised database — that is, all demographic and biometric data is stored as one database. (Express Photo)

The former chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Nandan Nilekani, wrote in these columns about ‘Why Supreme Court judgment on Aadhaar calls for an appeal’ (September 15).

The need for a national identification card/ platform was first mooted in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, and Aadhaar was the UPA’s attempt at realising that vision. Aadhaar has been sold as a transformational scheme, but there are legitimate questions regarding design, data integrity, privacy and security. As one of the petitioners impleading in the Supreme Court matter referred to by Nilekani, and as one who understands the transformational potential of technology, I believe it is necessary to analyse the case presented in his article.

Nilekani’s “first ground for appeal” against the interim order issued in August by the apex court is the freedom of individual choice. He states that one, enrolment in Aadhaar is voluntary, and that two, individuals granting permission for the UIDAI to share their information in a secure way with another system for their own convenience and benefit “hardly qualifies as a violation of their right to privacy”. This argument is grossly inaccurate.

Let us test the claim that Aadhaar is a “voluntary” scheme. Back in September 2013, the apex court had ordered that no citizen should be denied government benefits for not having the Aadhaar card, that is, it could not be made mandatory. However, in blatant disregard for this order, the government single-handedly forced Aadhaar on citizens by making them require it to access essential public services. In October 2013, soon after the SC order, the UPA linked employee provident fund benefits to Aadhaar, only withdrawn after a backlash. Similarly the governments of Karnataka in 2013, Andhra Pradesh in 2014, and Puducherry in 2015 asked all ration card holders to produce their Aadhaar numbers to avail the PDS.
The assertion that Aadhaar is “voluntary” is, therefore, typical doublespeak. As Jean Dreze has written, it is voluntary only in principle, and is actually turning coercive by incentivising or “fast tracking” the requests of users who provide Aadhaar numbers.

The second claim — that enrolment in the scheme “hardly qualifies as a violation of their right to privacy” is disingenuous, as is a related assertion made in a later section, that the Aadhaar system, being a “federated structure”, “ensures privacy by design”. The Central Identities Data Repository, which is under the UIDAI, is a centralised database — that is, all demographic and biometric data is stored as one database. This is not a federated structure, and in the absence of a data protection legislation, is a ticking time bomb. The ramifications of central databases on the privacy of citizens are potent.

The UIDAI has enlisted the services of several private subcontractors, including those that aren’t Indian or subject to Indian law for data collation, which exacerbates the threat to privacy. In a post-Edward Snowden world, and in the absence of adequate legal and technical safeguards to prevent leakage of data to unauthorised hands, there is no reason for Indian citizens to place their faith in the good intentions of vendors with no particular affiliation to our Constitution.

Nilekani also argues about the freedom of the executive to frame policy. This argument has often been used by the executive, most often to duck scrutiny. It was a defence used in the infamous 2G and coal block allocation cases. And for a single, centralised body with a mandate as all-encompassing as Aadhaar, funded by taxpayer money, to exist for almost six years now without any legislative scrutiny and sanction is unacceptable. What is even more unacceptable is that the legitimate concerns and reports of errors and fake entries are not addressed at all.

India needs to set up robust infrastructure to directly deliver welfare benefits to the poor. For better or for worse, we are stuck with the Aadhaar platform. This must be used to its full potential. This, however, does not mean questions about privacy and data integrity must not be answered. The government should bring a bill in Parliament and start a long overdue debate.

The writer is an independent Rajya Sabha MP and a technology entrepreneur