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.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

8980 - Aadhaar and the right to privacy - The Hindu





In the 21st century, a government that cannot protect its citizens’ right to privacy cannot credibly maintain a democratic regime of equal treatment under the law.

The Supreme Court has cut straight to the heart of the issue in the Aadhaar petitions. On behalf of all Indian citizens, it asks the current government to address the most basic questions in a democracy governed by the law: what are the privacy rights of its citizens; and are they protected equally, with the same justice for the rich and the poor alike?

In the 20th century, governments that recognised no private sphere of thought, expression, and action outside their reach and the ruling party’s reach were called “totalitarian”. Aware that such governments are antithetical to freedom, the world’s democracies were willing to sacrifice tens of millions of their citizens’ lives in the Second World War to defeat them militarily. The democratic constitutions that rose on the ashes of European totalitarianism explicitly recognised the integrity of a private sphere that governments may not invade, as the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, as interpreted by its Supreme Court, has also done. The post-Independence Indian Constitution does this as well.

In the 21st century, a government that cannot or will not protect its citizens’ privacy rights cannot credibly maintain a democratic regime of equal treatment under the rule of law. Freedom of opinion and association; freedom of religion (or irreligion); the ability to make choices and decisions autonomously in society free of surrounding social pressure, including the right to vote — all of these depend on the preservation of the “private sphere.”

Yet, the Government of India (GoI), speaking through its Attorney-General, has repeatedly declared that it is the government’s position that Indian citizens have no constitutional right of privacy. Whether GoI is ultimately prepared to restate that position and risk a political loss before the Supreme Court remains to be seen.

The pressure on the government very much increased last week, when the Supreme Court refused simultaneous applications by multiple agencies demanding relief from the Supreme Court’s interim order limiting the use of Aadhaar pending the Court’s final decision. By referring these government applications to a constitutional bench whose composition has been announced last week, the court has assured Indians that a decision on their fundamental rights will not be long delayed.

The Attorney-General argued that the poor, whose welfare is at stake in the continuance of subsidy payments and other benefits, must be prepared to surrender their right of privacy, if any, in order to continue receiving benefits. This argument was sharply rejected by the bench, which recognises that the poor have the same rights as the rich, ad interim as well as permanently, in any democratic society.

This is not, as GoI has been claiming, a conflict between the needs of the poor and “1 or 2 or 10 persons” who care about everyone’s fundamental right to privacy. The government’s most basic obligation is to protect its citizens’ rights — both their right to sustenance and their right to the privacy that enables freedom — equally. The ultimate resolution of this present controversy must recognise both the need for Aadhaar — in order to provide efficient and honest government services to citizens — and the need for stringent rules concerning access to and security of citizens’ biometric data, in order to preserve their privacy.

GoI cannot adopt the posture that only one aspect of government’s protective responsibility matters — that the costs of privacy destruction can be imposed upon the poor in return for LPG subsidies, or any other social benefit on which they absolutely depend. The Supreme Court’s action this week ensures that GoI must respond to both halves of the problem.
In particular, the Indian Supreme Court is likely to find itself asking GoI about what in Indian and U.S. law is called the “doctrine of unconstitutional conditions”. Both Supreme Courts have held that the government cannot condition receipt of public benefits on waiver of fundamental rights. This is in sharp contradiction to the argument offered in the Supreme Court this week by the counsel for Center for Civil Society, when he told the bench that “a person who has a right to privacy should be allowed to waive it for greater benefit.”

We are about to begin one of the most important constitutional cases of India’s post-Independence legal history. The good news is that the Supreme Court has shown it knows exactly what’s at stake. In any democracy, that’s a necessary place to start.


(Eben Moglen is Founding-Director of Software Freedom Law Center and professor of law and legal history at Columbia University. Mishi Choudhary is Technology lawyer and Executive Director at SFLC.IN, a donor-supported legal services organisation.)

The authors have rightly said that democracy is irrelevant without right to privacy (“Aadhaar and the right to privacy,” Oct. 20). The Attorney General’s claim that poor should surrender their right to privacy for welfare schemes is naïve and arbitrary. In our Constitution all citizens have equal rights. The Supreme Court judgment to not make Aadhaar card mandatory for various programmes and schemes is very right. Interfering in the privacy of an individual is a threat to liberty which is the foremost principle of our Constitution.
Gagan Pratap Singhy,
Noida