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.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

8911 - Aadhar: To be or not to be! - Business Standard



In a major set of events, the Digital India mission particularly with respect to public distribution system and social schemes in the country, seems to be on a back foot.

With the Supreme Court referring all cases related to the petition challenging the validity of Aadhaar unique ID project to a larger bench, temperature around this issue has soared. In July this year itself, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, stirred up a debate by declaring that right to privacy is not a fundamental right at all. While experts advocating Aadhar scheme have strongly suggested the need for such a technology backed system for effective management of public distribution system and other welfare schemes, the other side also has many fundamental and logical concerns with respect to same. As they say 'Well begun is half done', in this case it never started off well!

Firstly, National Identification Authority of India Bill has still not got public consent in terms of being passed as a legislation in a democracy like India. Spending billions of rupees and enrolling close to 800 million people on a scheme that has not got legal backing is again a serious matter for a country like ours where every penny counts.

Secondly, sheer involvement of very personal data of individuals such as their finger prints and iris scans makes this issued further more complex. It is very logical assertion that private agencies collecting personal data of individuals at such large scale can easily misuse it in any unprecedented manner. Total absence of data handling and privacy related legal framework in India further creates a situation of legal ambiguity and complications for the enforcement agencies. Consider this when your email account is hacked or your debit card is stolen, the damage caused can still be contained, but if someone has unauthorised access to your iris scan and finger prints, the kind of havoc it can cause in your life is purely beyond imagination. Such a situation in a country where a cocktail of absence of privacy laws is being served with almost technical incapability of a major part of enforcement agencies to handle such complex matters is again a matter of deep introspection.

Apart from these, even the definitions and terminologies defined in the Bill are not yet clear and have the potential of further challenging the constitutionality of the legal framework on which it is being based. Be it definition of resident (not citizens) who can enrol in Aadhar scheme or explaining biometric information, there are innumerable loose ends in the Bill itself.

Besides, even if Aadhar project is considered essential for state welfare schemes, there are no restrictions, regulations and penalties on the government and handling authorities in handling the data that has already been collected by them. In such a situation authorities will be at will to use such data as they want. It wouldn't be totally fictitious then to imagine that, we will be in a state of lawlessness to the extent of legal issues arising out of such cases.

While close to 140 billion Indian population demands a reformative welfare scheme and system such as Aadhar ID, the wider interest lies in evolving it in true light of proper and tight worded legal system. Fact is, right now Aadhar project is a baby grown too fast in a lawless territory. It needs a proper legal guiding light and regulatory framework for letting it become a national winner and not a dark demon causing havoc in lives of very people for whose benefit it was conceptualised. Only then its benefits shall be reaped by the citizens even on last mile of the borders of this great country. 

(Nishant Ahlawat, a Delhi Based technology and corporate law expert who guides and advises young entrepreneurs in legal aspects of their start-up ventures.)


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