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 9, 2015

8888 - Aadhaar fiasco: There can't be any compromise with privacy - dna


Friday, 9 October 2015 - 9:45am IST | Agency: dna | From the print edition

Those pitching for Aadhaar’s ability to streamline government functioning without taking heed of the Centre’s lax concern for privacy are myopic in their view
The central government has only itself to blame for failing in its attempt to extend the Aadhaar project to cover more welfare schemes. In defending the Aadhaar card project, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right, rather than harping on the social benefits of the project through financial inclusion of the poor. 

This cavalier, if not contemptuous, attitude to privacy triggered alarm in both legal circles and civil society. Under the circumstances, the Supreme Court has acted wisely in referring the matter to a larger constitutional bench to iron out the State’s position on privacy. Nevertheless, the blow to the government is just temporary. In the long run, the court’s decision could ensure that Aadhaar lives up to its social potential without becoming a tool for surveillance and other unintended purposes.

In recent times, the imperatives of development, GDP growth, and governance have been thrown at those who raise worries about environment, communalism and freedoms. A similar attack has been launched on those who question the loose regulatory framework governing the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). 

The proponents of Aadhaar highlight its potential to streamline the delivery mechanisms for social sector schemes by plugging leakages. 

In contrast, the Supreme Court’s interim order on Aadhaar usage restricts it to identifying beneficiaries of the public distribution system (PDS) and transferring subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene. 

The order came just as ambitious plans to use Aadhaar for biometric attendance, Jan Dhan Yojana, pension payments, scholarships, MGNREGA wage disbursals, and operating payment banks, were finalised. 

While the benefits of Aadhaar are not disputed, extending the unique identification system to all walks of life without parliamentary sanction and legislative cover is unacceptable and legally untenable. 

The government has concurrently embarked on aggressive Aadhaar enrolment drives and rolled out new services requiring Aadhaar cards while ingeniously claiming that Aadhaar enrolment is not mandatory. This puts immense pressure to enrol on even those who do not wish to submit their personal and biometric information to the UIDAI in the absence of privacy and statutory safeguards. Take for example, two other services where citizens have to mandatorily share information with the government — the Census and PAN Card. The Census Act mandates that all citizens cooperate with Census officials while Section 139A was inserted in the Income Tax Act to enable the I-T department to give statutory effect to its PAN card enrolment drive. 

The Aadhaar card is fast becoming the primary identity document for Indians and may even become an overriding part of our existence along with our names, age, and other aspects of our identity like sexual, regional, linguistic, caste and religious affiliations. That such a powerful authority is functioning in a legal vacuum speaks poorly for our democratic pretensions and parliamentary traditions. For a start, the UIDAI must be insulated from the government and private enterprises. 

Without delineating the UIDAI’s responsibilities in data management and storage, no legal recourse is available for actions that constitute data theft and unauthorised access. Citizens who have shared their private and biometric data must be safe in the knowledge that this would not be used to harm them, come what may. Recently, the government toyed with the idea of introducing a DNA Profiling Bill in Parliament. Perhaps, the government , forever cribbing about judicial intrusion in the policy domain, could go one-up over the judges and introduce a UIDAI Bill with strong privacy safeguards, before the larger bench of the Supreme Court concludes its hearings.