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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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

8935 - Controlling identities by Yogi Agarwal - Asian Age

Oct 14, 2015








There is a danger of ‘data creep’ in which data collected by UIDAI and the external contractors being linked to other intelligence databases, without the knowledge of the individual concerned

Governments, whether of the United Progressive Alliance or the National Democratic Alliance, have been desperately trying to bring their unique identification scheme (UID) under the Aadhaar umbrella an air of legal legitimacy. Unfortunately for the government, the Supreme Court has not obliged. Last week, in a major setback for the government, the Supreme Court did not modify its interim order of August 11 restricting the use of the Aadhaar unique identity number for subsidies on kerosene and LPG.

The court laid down three conditions for the continuance of the UID scheme. One, that the government shall widely publicise, in the electronic and print media, including radio and television networks, that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card. Two, the production of an Aadhaar card will not be a condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen. Three, the UID number or Aadhaar card may be used in the public distribution system (PDS), “in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc., and cooking fuel, such as kerosene” and in LPG distribution.

On September 23, 2013, the Supreme Court issued an interim order saying that “no person should suffer for not getting Aadhaar” as it is voluntary, not mandatory. In another interim order on August 11, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that “UID/Aadhaar will not be used for any other purposes except PDS, kerosene and LPG distribution system” and made it clear that even for availing these facilities Aadhaar card will not be mandatory. Importantly, the UID number will not be used for school admissions, scholarships for students, passport verification, banks, registration of marriage, wills, property sales or rentals, vehicle registration, mobile phones, etc. All this will be illegal after this order.

This happened despite several petitioners, including the Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the Income-Tax Department pleaded for a relaxation of the interim order to allow the voluntary use of Aadhaar as a form of e-identity. With such a strong backing for Aadhaar and over 900 million (or three fourths of the Indian population) numbers having been issued already, it might seem perverse to oppose what is claimed to be an essential modernising step forward.

The argument for Aadhaar mainly rests on the direct benefit transfer scheme for LPG where the money is directly sent to an Aadhaar-linked bank account. This was “very encouraging” with a reported savings of Rs 12,700 crores to the public. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley maintained that it was central to the government’s JAM — Jan Dhan Yojana Aadhaar, Mobile — vision that could ensure “money goes directly and more quickly into the pockets of the poor”.

The government also experimented with an Aadhaar-based system to check late arrival and absenteeism in government offices, but this did not work. The ministry of external affairs was testing the linking of passports to the Aadhaar database, checking whether the applicant had any criminal records. The Department of Telecom as part of the “Digital India” project asked all telecom operators to collect Aadhaar from all new applicants for SIM cards. In July 2014, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) began linking provident fund accounts with Aadhaar numbers. In August 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed the Planning Commission to enrol all prisoners in India under Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

In December 2014, it was proposed by minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi that Aadhaar should be made mandatory for men to create a profile on matrimonial websites to prevent fake profiles. In March 2015, the Election Commission of India started a programme to link the elector’s photo identity card with the Aadhaar number of the registered voter.

Clearly, the Aadhaar number was being put to various inventive uses, all beyond what the Supreme Court allowed. Its benefits are limited but the dangers are immense. The technology is untested. Having a database of over a billion people with even a small error in identifying fingerprints could lead to wrong confinement or identification. All countries fingerprint only criminals among their citizens, which amount to a few million at the most. Here the problems of retaining biometric efficiency for more than one billion has not been sufficiently studied or known. There could be serious errors in the registration process.

There is a further question of who is collecting this data. For the speed with which the biometric details of people are being collected, private foreign entrepreneurs have been recruited. They manage and hold the data and have uncomfortably close relationships with American and French intelligence agencies instead of known public sector ones. Then there is the risk of the information being sold to a bidder and being misused. Apart from that, there is the question of privacy. The Unique Identification Authority of India collects a person’s fingerprints and retinal scan, which can then be used by government agencies against critics. There is a danger of “data creep” in which data collected by UIDAI and the external contractors being linked to other intelligence databases, or used for commercial purposes, without the knowledge or permission of the individual concerned.

Apart from privacy, the Aadhaar database can be used for surveillance and gives immense power to the government or, more likely, foreign contractors and governments. There is a deliberate flouting of court orders. Another matter of grave concern is the introduction of the number into every database. Once this happens, it makes convergence of personal information remarkably simple. 

So, if the number is in the gas agency, bank, ticket, ration card, voter ID, medical records, etc., the state, as also others who learn to use what is called the “ID platform”, can see every activity of the citizen. Is this the first step in the control of his life?


The writer is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist