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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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

8829 - Aadhaar card privacy for public good - Economic Times


October 6, 2015, 6:36 AM IST Economic Times in ET Commentary | Economy, India | ET

By Ram Sewak Sharma

There are a number of PILs pending before the Supreme Court challenging Aadhaar on various grounds, including privacy. The issue being argued is whether privacy is a fundamental right or not.

Unlike many countries, India doesn’t have a law on privacy. The then-chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Nandan Nilekani, had written to PM Manmohan Singh in May 2010, suggesting that there was a need to have a data protection and privacy law. The law has since been in the making. It only shows that the UIDAI was very much alive to the concerns. Many of them were addressed through the design principles.

Aadhaar has been primarily designed as a tool to streamline the delivery system. Many people can’t access government benefits as they do not have documentary proof of their identity. Aadhaar has been designed to be inclusive so as to solve this problem. It has also been designed to ensure delivery of benefits directly to the people.

Studies estimate leakage in the range of 10-30%, mostly due to ghost and duplicate beneficiaries. By ensuring the uniqueness of identities, it eliminates these ghosts and duplicates, saving thousands of crores of rupees. It can also eliminate benami transactions that cause huge tax evasion, resulting in the creation of black money.

While creating an identity infrastructure, the UIDAI decided only to collect the minimum data sufficient to establish identity: name, gender, age and communication address. The inclusion of a photograph, iris image and fingerprints in the biometric set was to establish uniqueness. The proposal to add ‘place of birth’ was rejected since it may be used to profile individuals. Why biometrics then? Precisely to ensure uniqueness. That was the mandate for establishing the UIDAI. Biometrics alone can ensure authentication — you can authenticate your identity online from anywhere, anytime. The operative word is ‘you’.

During a biometric-based authentication, it is the individual who has to participate in the process, typically at the service delivery point to prove his identity. It facilitates residents in getting a service in a paperless way. As no information is divulged to any agency without the consent of the concerned individual, it can’t violate any privacy. Such authentication ensures that documents cannot be misused. On the other hand, physical documents furnished to avail services — opening a bank account, checking into a hotel or getting a subscriber identity module (SIM) — are liable to misuse.

There have been instances of multiple SIMs being issued using documents whose owner is not even aware of such fraud. Electronic know your customer (KYC), on the other hand, ensures that the document cannot be used for any other transaction. The UIDAI also has built a facility wherein you can ‘lock’ your Aadhaar and disable it from any type of authentication for a period of your choice.

When a physical document is misused in a transaction, there is no way the owner comes to know of it. But the UIDAI sends a message and an email to the concerned person the moment authentication happens. It ensures additional protection against any misuse.

The second design principle was to issue random numbers with no intelligence — to protect privacy by ensuring that the number does not disclose anything about the person. What is more, the UIDAI does not permit data download. Search is not allowed and no data can ever be accessed just by the Aadhaar number. There is no question of sharing biometric details.

Besides the minimal data, the UIDAI does not keep anything except the logs of authentication. It does not know the purpose of authentication. It only knows the date and time and the agency through which it was done. The transaction details remain with the concerned agency. The model ensures that each data-owner shares the responsibility of confidentiality and security.

So, Aadhaar protects privacy by design. It also provides end-to-end encryption of data that is impossible to break should the data fall into wrong hands. The public position of UIDAI on privacy has been that it will comply with every law, principle, doctrine and standards of privacy adopted in India. The problem is that it is being put to random tests with the expectation of being compliant with anything and everything on privacy.

As we have built the world’s largest next-generation digital identity infrastructure, we should focus on leveraging it for service delivery with security and without violating privacy. 

Whether fundamental or not, the right to privacy is something that India must guard all the time.

(The writer is Trai chairperson and former director general, UIDAI. Views expressed are personal)