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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Monday, November 30, 2015

9101 - Can Aadhaar be saved? - Live Mint


What’s essential for the unique identification number to continue is a strong law. But what should it look like?


Some critics say that Aadhaar will not address the problems it claims to solve, such as exclusion of the most marginalized communities from basic services. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
A key thrust of the 2012 writ petition filed in the Aadhaar case (Puttaswamy versus Union of India) was that the executive action in implementing Aadhaar was unconstitutional in the absence of a law.

Later developments in the case, including the government’s argument that there is no fundamental right to privacy, and the limitations placed in the use of Aadhaar unique identity numbers in the interim orders, have overshadowed this objection.
Reports from earlier this month indicate the government is considering re-introducing some version of the National Identification Authority of India bill (NIAI bill), with finance minister Arun Jaitley stating that a draft was ready (http://bit.ly/1PfslOq ).

The first version of the draft law was rejected by a parliamentary standing committee in 2011, chiefly on the grounds of lack of clarity of purpose, potential for fraud and misuse, and high security risks. (http://bit.ly/1Xld4uJ )
The concerns raised by the committee report, and by the Supreme Court (SC) in its interim orders must be adequately addressed in a new draft for it to pass both parliamentary and judicial assessment.

What’s been wrong with Aadhaar?

It is a daunting task to cull out all the grounds of opposition to Aadhaar, since fears and objections of different shades have been raised. However, three broad strands can be gleaned.
One is that Aadhaar infringes the privacy and personal liberty of the individual. This includes objections to both the collection of biometric data and the uses (yet to be exhaustively specified) that such data could be put to.

The second argument goes that Aadhaar will not address the problems it claims to solve, such as exclusion of the most marginalized communities from basic services. Instead, it will exacerbate them, because Aadhaar numbers are mandatory in fact, notwithstanding government press statements, and many still do not have it.

The third main argument is that the data security framework in place for Aadhaar is inadequate, and the most personal data of 930 million people are at risk.

Not all these concerns can be addressed through law.
If SC holds that the very act of storing the fingerprints of citizens, even with consent, is a violation of privacy (as some petitioners have argued), then the basis for the programme will be lost.

Some of the objections, however, can be addressed through a legal framework which establishes safeguards and limitations, and more importantly, gives adequate recourse to individuals if those safeguards are violated.

The NIAI bill, however, abdicated its responsibility by handing over most of the decision-making power to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the authority in charge of Aadhaar.

A better Aadhaar?
The new bill should not repeat its mistakes. The objections relating to compulsoriness, privacy and data security must be addressed adequately in it to pass muster.
First, on the compulsory use of Aadhaar. The directive that Aadhaar is optional and can only be used on the basis of free and informed consent must bind not only UIDAI but also the government and private institutions that use the service.
Further, it is inadequate to merely state that Aadhaar is consent-based, or even declare it so in law. Effective recourse must be established in case of violations; for example, in the shape of a grievance redressal authority that is sufficiently empowered to take meaningful action.
Second, there has to be greater certainty on the uses that the Aadhaar number can be put to.
UIDAI has stressed on several occasions that it does not store the source of each authentication, and therefore, it is not possible to track the usage of Aadhaar with respect to an individual over a period of time.
This by itself is not sufficient.
Even with this design, authorities other than UIDAI can cause the convergence of databases where the Aadhaar number is seeded, linking databases to get detailed profiles of citizens. If, for example, Aadhaar numbers are provided for a marriage licence, a gas licence, an entrance examination and for registering a lease deed, then linking the information provided to these public service providers using the Aadhaar number as the common factor gives unprecedented levels of information to the state.
This must be made explicitly illegal.
Further, one of the most troubling aspects of the Aadhaar number is the attempts made to use it in criminal investigation. A public example of this was when the high court in Goa ordered UIDAI to share a database with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
While this was contested by UIDAI and overturned by SC, measures such as these should not be dependent on the inclinations of the executive in charge at the time.
The design of the unique identification number assumes that its usage is open-ended. At the very least, however, no-go areas should be designated in the law.
If the Aadhaar number has been designed for only civilian, not law enforcement or security purposes, the law should say so.
Third, on data security and protection, more needs to be said. While a law should aim to be technology-neutral, requirements such as independent security audits, or preconditions for private contractors entrusted with data belong properly in the bill.

Who watches the watchers?
All of these measures depend on a strong system of oversight and accountability.

Oversight was missing from the NIAI bill, which only contained a provision for an identity review committee.

That committee’s sole function was to write an annual report on the usage of the Aadhaar number. It was appointed by a search committee where two of the three members belonged to the executive wing of government.

This falls considerably short of the standards of oversight. As a result, if a government service provider demands an Aadhaar number before providing a service, in spite of repeated SC orders and UIDAI advertisements, an individual will have no recourse except the courts.

Instead, models akin to the privacy commissioners proposed by the group of experts on privacy, chaired by former judge A.P. Shah, should be adopted in the bill to address non-compliance with the safeguards in the proposed law, unauthorized disclosures as well as security breaches.

A single law cannot address all the fears of surveillance and privacy invasion that have been validly raised in the last few years.

A privacy bill that actually addresses the issues at hand, along with stronger data protection regulations, must be demanded.
But a new NIAI bill is a good place to start.
Srijoni Sen is a senior resident fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy in New Delhi, and leads the public law vertical.



Topics: AadhaarUIDAI