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.

August 24, 2017: The nine-judge Constitution Bench rules that right to privacy is “intrinsic to life and liberty” and is inherently protected under the various fundamental freedoms enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the World; indeed it's the only thing that ever has"

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” - Edward Snowden

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.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

8799 - Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Challenges of Digital India - Niti Central



AUTHOR: SHRADHA SINGH - OCTOBER 2, 2015


India is witnessing the fastest, deepest and the most significant structural change in the economy post the Industrial Revolution. Digital India is a great vision, which sits at the intersection of government reform and technology enabling transparency and efficient governance.

However, the inadequate understanding of privacy in the online world coupled with the absence of a policy on the same leads to the question on rights of the digital citizen.


Setting the tone of a discourse on the rights of the digital Indian, entrepreneur and Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar representing Karnataka State and Urban Bengaluru in the Parliament argued that when privacy is taken to the digital space its definition, permissibility and illegality aspects change.

Addressing the audience at a Q & A session on data security and right to privacy organised by Youth Forum on Foreign Policy at Christ College Bangalore, Rajeev spoke on the legal aspects of data protection, privacy and issues pertaining to the choice of data distribution.

The contours of the debate included the legal responsibility of data voluntarily given and that which is involuntarily tracked. Who is responsible for the misuse of the data and what legal framework is present to protect the citizens from its misuse.
Below are some of the questions Rajeev Chandrasekhar addressed:


On the need for a legislation:
There is a need for a debate, for a legislation that effectively casts responsibility on the holder of the data, and gives reciprocal rights to the giver of the data. The big-brother Orwellian scenario of a government-corporate nexus should never develop. Referring to the disclosures by Snowden, the NSA leaks in the US where AT&T was co-operating with NSA and with Google in an unchallenged manner. Rajeev argued that if that kind of power is given to the government, it will almost certainly be misused.
In the digital world there are terabytes and gigabytes of data floating around and hence there is a need for an explicit set of rules and guidelines for people holding that kind of information.

On the lack of legislations for initiatives like Aadhaar, where no one is held accountable if data is misused?
Giving the example of the Aadhaar case in the SC to which he is also a petitioner, Rajeev said that there are two components to the issue.
One is whether to avail public services, you can take Aadhaar and make it a mandatory precondition to the services that you are entitled to avail as a citizen of India. Identity verification is a condition to avail services and the Supreme Court will agree to it. What has been challenged in court is Aadhaar having collected the data and architected in the manner it was done, places no responsibility or onus on anybody in the government to maintain the integrity, privacy and confidentiality of the data in that database. The fundamental right to privacy, whether fundamental or not cast and must cast an obligation on Aadhaar that if the data is misused, then the citizens have the right to challenge Aadhaar.

Is it possible to keep the private information of people in nobody’s hands, you keep it in a server not regulated by any human being, in a place regulated by computers only?
This is an issue of the rights of an individual. You can’t give a right to a citizen and say nobody is a counterparty to the right. Somebody has to be responsible for that right. The issue is not about a technology solution, but a legal solution. If the right is breached, the citizen must have the right to approach an adjudication platform for curing that breach. How to manage the data without human intervention is a good solution, but it’s more of a utopian idea- of not having any human intervention to a database.


Do you think it will be too utopian to incorporate such technologies in Digital India?
Minimising human intervention and human access to databases that are confidential is not a new concept. It has been done elsewhere, by private companies that manage terabytes of information, precisely because they are worried about the legal liabilities that arise out of a right to privacy that is enshrined in their local laws. The end in our case is making sure legally individuals have the right to ensure that their information is maintained privately. It is important not to get distracted by people who say that there are solutions so one don’t need rights.

On the challenge of implementing Digital India:
As things become easier for the good guys they become easier for the bad guys. For every Flipkart for every technology entrepreneur online there is an ISIS, there are propaganda, there is recruitment happening online. Therefore there is always going to be this security argument that is used to trample on, to fetter, and to dilute the fundamental rights that we are taking from the real world to the online world. The privacy debate is at its early stages, people should start talking about what they want in terms of rights. There will be a push back, an alternative narrative as well and the two will come to a compromise at some point.

On right to privacy vis-à-vis the national security and sovereignty of the nation:
Arguing that the law and order machinery has not been pressured enough to be more nuanced about its interventions online that the whole take down of the internet occurs in disturbed regions in the country. Security has to be balanced with liberty, with freedom of expression and has to coincide and ride along with individual rights.

I don’t think there will be situation where the rights of the individual will be superior to the rights of the nation. But that does not transfer the right of incompetence and not being sophisticated to the law enforcement and security agencies. There need not be a compromise on your freedom of expression and liberty and privacy in the name of national security. These two are complimentary and co-exist.

On the DNA-nuclear profiling Bill that is expected to be passed in the Winter Session of Parliament:
DNA profiling is fine for law and order, like NATGRID – will effectively improve our ability to prosecute crime effectively. But in the absence of a safe guard that the DNA information will not be misused it will be misused and that is why you can have all these laws and legislations but without the protection of a clarified Article 21 by the Supreme Court or a new legislation will not pass.

On the distinction of individual rights and rights on macro level–collective data protection:
Most of what happens in our country today is that individual right is effectively trampled upon. The right to privacy has to be absolute on the individual level it has to be safeguarded in law, whether it’s a constitutional right or a legislative right. Whether a community like a gram panchayat, or a city, or a group of people have the right to consent or waive is a debate worth having. Currently the focus is on individual rights as that’s how our Constitution is written- it’s about individual rights and liberty.

On the steps that he would take if he was the Communication and Information Technology Minister:
To make Digital India successful I would create a basket or a policy enabling framework for the Digital Indian. We must move from a mind-set of building infrastructure to building an ecosystem for the people. For too long the debate has been about how many towers, networks, as opposed to how many Indians with well-preserved rights to speak to express, without the fear or favour. The digital Indian would become my target rather than digital India.