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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Saturday, February 13, 2016

9353 - PRESS STATEMENT National Security linked to Citizens Privacy, PAID NEWS responsible for survival of illegal Biometric Aadhaar so far


 PRESS STATEMENT

National Security linked to Citizens Privacy, PAID NEWS responsible for survival of illegal Biometric Aadhaar so far 

MoUs of UIDAI superior to Courts, Law and Constitution
Left Parties voiced their concern but no united action so far    

Review of 2015: Year of Lawlessness & Assault on Civil Rights  

Countries where rule of law prevails, MoUs are subservient to law of the land.  The implementation of Biometric Aadhaar underlines that MoUs signed with  Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) are superior to Supreme Court’s orders, law and Constitution in India.

January –Fourth Anniversary of the letter of Justice M. Rama Jois, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha addressed a letter to the Prime Minister in regard to the constitutional impropriety of issuing Aadhaar Numbers by UIDAI even when the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 was pending before the Parliament dated 19th January, 2011. But surprisingly, to the said letter, he received a reply dated January 29, 2011 simply stating that the Prime Minister has received his letter without replying to the points raised in his letter.
In blatant contempt of Parliament’s right, Supreme Court’s judicial process,  citizens’ rights, national security concerns and existing laws, Indian Government’s Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) continued its collection of personal sensitive information like Fingerprints and Iris Scans of all residents of India along with other information for biometric Unique identity (UID)/Aadhaar Number under the influence of World Bank’s eTransform Initiative, US Department of Defense, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Accenture, Safran Group and Ernst & Young.

February – A section of media remained wedded to Paid News in myriad disguises continued to hide the fact that fundamentally unique identity (UID)/aadhaar is not a proof of identity, it is an identifier contained in the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) of UID/aadhaar numbers. Aadhaar is simply the brand name of UID Number. These publications and news channels ignored what is admitted in central government’s Paper on Privacy Bill. This paper states, “Data privacy and the need to protect personal information is almost never a concern when data is stored in a decentralized manner. Data that is maintained in silos is largely useless outside that silo and consequently has a low likelihood of causing any damage. However, all this is likely to change with the implementation of the UID Project. One of the inevitable consequences of the UID Project will be that the UID Number will unify multiple databases. As more and more agencies of the government sign on to the UID Project, the UID Number will become the common thread that links all those databases together. Over time, private enterprise could also adopt the UID Number as an identifier for the purposes of the delivery of their services or even for enrolment as a customer.” This paper prophetically infers that “Once this happens, the separation of data that currently exists between multiple databases will vanish.” This poses a threat to the identity of citizens and the idea of residents of the state as private persons will be forever abandoned.

March- Third Anniversary of Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI)-Communist Party’s submission of 3.57 crore signatures against Aadhaar/UID and other issues to the Prime Minister. SUCI (C) had submitted these signatures on 14th March, 2012 on the 129th death anniversary of Karl Marx.
In an answer to a question raised on “Legal Framework and Parliamentary Scrutiny Over Intelligence Agencies” by Dr Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament and Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs in the Lok Sabha which was answered on 10th March, 2015, the minister’s reply revealed the plot regarding the nature of work UIDAI and its Biometric Aadhaar is doing. The question was: Will the Minister of Home Affairs be pleased to state:-(a) Whether the absence of a legal framework to govern the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) has prompted the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other banks of the country to refuse NATGRID an access to the database of its customers. He asked whether the Government has any proposal to extend parliamentary scrutiny over intelligence agencies of the country such as NATGRID, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, the Minister of State for Home Affairs replied “There is no information on the reported refusal of the RBI and other banks to provide NATGRID an access to their database. As per Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) mandate, the information/ data relating to Financial Sector has to be obtained by NATGRID through Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). A nodal officer has already been appointed by FIU to have interaction with NATGRID.  The issue of accountability of Intelligence Agencies like IB and RAW, and oversight mechanism including by a Parliamentary Committee is the subject matter of a Writ Petition in the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in which the Government has taken a view that the existing oversight structure is adequate. The matter is sub-judice at present. The NATGRID and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) have not been declared as Intelligence Agencies.” It is apparent that there is an implicit admission about the role UIDAI and NATGRID play without formal declaration.

One year of resignation Nandan Nilekani as UIDAI chairman. Nilekani had submitted his resignation letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, three days after formally joining Indian National Congress to contest Lok Sabha polls. Nilekani joined Congress, a day after the party named him as its candidate from Bangalore South. "Yes, I have resigned today," Nilekani told PTI on 13th March, 2014. Nilekani contested against five-time BJP MP Ananth Kumar. In violation of Model Code of Conduct that was in force during the elections, Nilekani advertised himself at the cost of public money.

One year of Dr Vijay Shanakar Madan assuming the charge of chairmanship of UIDAI. He had assumed charge on March 27th, 2014 after Nilekani’s resignation.

April- First Anniversary of Narendra Modi’s tweet saying, "On Aadhaar, neither the Team that I met nor PM could answer my Qs (questions) on security threat it can pose. There is no vision, only political gimmick" on 8th April, 2014 in the aftermath of orders of Supreme Court and Punjab & Haryana High Court, concerns raised by National Human Rights Commission.


In its central organ, Liberation, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation [CPIML] carried an article in its April 2011 issue titled ‘What's the 'Aadhaar' of the UID Scheme?’ concluded, “The UID(/aadhaar) scheme is a blatant attempt to convert a resident into a number, the Indian population into a global market and then citizens into subjects.”

In an editorial titled ‘Policy Watch: UID Aadhaar Under Cloud’, Liberation argued, “Instead of spending thousands of crores on doubtful technology and UID, the Government should spend on expanding and universalising the social security net, so that the poor do not have to keep proving their poverty credentials in order to access what is their right” in January 2012 taking note of the report of the parliamentary standing committee on finance on Aadhaar Bill. Its July 2013 issue recalled how CIA-backed US corporations are involved in the UID/Aadhaar project and its editorial reads, “We in India must demand that the Indian Government protest against the violation of the sovereignty of India and the privacy of its citizens by the USA, and put a moratorium on its own digital spying and data-gathering plans….”

The Second Anniversary of four page analysis of Proletarian Era, the central organ of Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI)-Communist party denouncing the Unique Identity (UID)/Aadhaar scheme as ‘subversion of democracy’. It had taken note of the severe indictment of the UIDAI by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in its report placed before Parliament on December 13, 2011. According to the report, the UID/Aadhaar project has been conceptualized “with no clarity of purpose” and “directionless” in its implementation, leading to “a lot of confusion”. The Standing Committee also observed that while framing of relevant law is under way, the continuance of the project is “unethical and violation of Parliament’s prerogatives”. The collection of biometric and personal data and issuing of UID numbers do not have any statutory sanction until the Bill is passed by Parliament. The journal endorses Parliamentary Standing Committee’s report saying, “There is every merit in this observation.”  The April 2013 issue of Proletarian Era raised pertinent questions debunking the need for UID/Aadhaar.  The party holds that “In the absence of a Constitutional provision or legal framework, all the actions of the UIDAI are technically unconstitutional and illegal.” This was a follow up of their submission of 3.57 crore signatures against Aadhaar/UID to the Prime Minister.

It came to light as per a RTI reply of April 2015 that out of 83.5 crore aadhaar numbers issued so far, only 2.19 lakh i.e. 0.03 % comprised of them who did not have a pre-existing ID proof. It shows how Indians were taken for a ride. It must be recalled that Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister had distributed Unique Identification (UID)/ Aadhaar numbers among the villagers of Tembhali village in Nandurbar District of Maharashtra on 29th September 2010. It was claimed, “The Aadhaar number will ease these difficulties in identification, by providing a nationally valid and verifiable single source of identity proof. The UIDAI will ensure the uniqueness of the Aadhaar numbers through the use of biometric attributes (Finger Prints and Iris) which will be linked to the number”. This shows that the claim in the Supreme Court on 29th September that “poor and those who had no other form of identity” are targets for aadhaar was/is wrong.

National Human Rights Commission in its submission to the parliamentary committee stated that the legitimate rights of the beneficiary citizens can get excluded.

 

Second Anniversary of article titled My Call Detail Records and A Citizen’s Right to Privacy  by Arun Jaitley as Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha. It must be recalled that referring to the incident of surveillance of his mobile phones, in an article published in Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu & English (Source: http://www.bjp.org), he wrote, Firstly, every citizen in India has a right to privacy. His right to privacy is an inherent aspect of his personal liberty. Interference in the right to privacy is an interference in his personal liberty by a process which is not fair, just or reasonable. A person’s Call Detail Records can throw up details of several transactions. In the case of an average citizen it can reflect on his relationships. In the case of a professional or a business person it can reflect on his financial transactions. In the case of a journalist it can reveal the identity of his sources. In the case of a politician it can reveal the identity of the person with whom he has regular access. Every person has ‘a right to be left alone’.”
Jaitley added, “In a liberal society there is no place for those who peep into the private affairs of individuals. No one has a right to know who another communicates with him. The nature of communication, the identity of persons being communicated with and frequency of communications would be a serious breach of privacy….This incident throws up another legitimate fear. We are now entering the era of the Adhaar number. The Government has recently made the existence of the Adhaar number as a condition precedent for undertaking several activities; from registering marriages to execution of property documents. Will those who encroach upon the affairs of others be able to get access to bank accounts and other important details by breaking into the system? If this ever becomes possible the consequences would be far messier.”
Revealing how power clouds human intelligence, Jaitley and his ministerial colleagues do not comprehend messier consequences of breach of privacy anymore. He wrote the article on April 17, 2013. It is available on BJP’s website demonstrating the gulf between what is preached and what is practiced.

May –First Anniversary of Narendra Modi’s U turn on 12 digit biometric aadhaar number which admittedly poses threat to national security after 21st May, 2014 when BJP led coalition became the ruling party at the centre. Considerations other than truth have given birth to Modi government’s faith in biometric aadhaar. The issuance of aadhaar numbers to large number of residents of India does not make it a program in national interest.

E.A.S. Sarma, former Secretary to Government of India wrote to the Prime Minister saying, “It is bizarre that the government should first collect personal information from unsuspecting citizens as a trustee and then surreptitiously pass on the ownership of such information to a private agency, guided more by the profit motive than the public interest. It is equally bizarre that the government should demote its own role to that of a customer of the private company in seeking access to the information base. All this amounts to a gross breach of the trust reposed by the citizens in the government. The proposal becomes all the more dubious in view of the monopolistic status sought to be given to the private agency 'owning' the citizens' information in its hands. I feel that the proposal is an ominous one as it would involve an outright handing over of the citizens' private information to a few private agencies whose motives could never be gauged and who have no accountability to the legislature. It is a proposal that should be rejected forthwith without any hesitation.” He concluded saying, “I get the uncomfortable feeling that it forms part of a more dubious scheme being contemplated by your government."

June- Fourth Anniversary of the submission of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to Yahswant Sinha headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on ―The National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill, 2010 on 29th June, 2011. The major issues discussed during the sitting broadly related to nature, objective and beneficiaries of aadhaar number; possible discrimination and specific provisions that are required to be built in; safeguards needed for securing the stored information by the proposed National Identification Authority of India; implications of the provisions of the Bill on the individual‘s right to privacy, etc. On being asked to comment on the implications of the provisions of the Bill on the individual‘s right to privacy, NHRC inter alia informed the Committee in their post-evidence reply as follows:- “….the right of privacy presupposes that such information relating to an individual which he would not like to share with others will not be disclosed. It may be mentioned that the right of privacy is not an absolute right……

In the matter of National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill, 2010, “NHRC’s views on the NIAI Bill, 2010″ in the Human Rights Newsletter (Vol. 18 No.8, August 2011) reveals that UID/Aadhaar Number has dangerous ramifications.  NHRC argued for “need for protection of information” and “the possibility of tampering with stored biometric information” in paragraph 5 (page no. 7 of the NHRC newsletter) and “disclosure of information in the interest of national security” mentioned in paragraph 9 (page no.8 of the newsletter).

July- Sixth Anniversary of meeting between A Raja, Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology and Nandan Nilekani. They had interacted on 22nd July, 2009.
Ref: http://photodivision.gov.in/IntroPhotodetails.asp?thisPage=342 

Raja’s ministry was the focal point for UIDAI and UID/Aadhaar. This ministry has regained the mandate to look after UIDAI in the current BJP led government.A Raja was the minister from 18th May, 2007-31st May, 2009. Raja is an accused in the 2 G spectrum scam who "wanted to favour some companies at the cost of the public exchequer" and "virtually gifted away important national asset(s).”
First Anniversary of the meeting between Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister and Arun Jaitley, the Defence, Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister and Nandan Nilekani, an electorally defeated Congressman and former head of UIDAI. Following their meeting on 1st July, 2014, the new government announced that aadhaar enrolment should cover 100 crore Indian residents by the end of 2015. Prior to the election and post election, Nilekani campaigned and promoted aadhaar using every marketing trick in the book amidst bitter criticism from the civil society groups, opposition parties including BJP, multi party parliamentary standing committee on finance and the judiciary.

Planning Commission appears to have been used to pilot it only to give Biometric Aadhaar an innocent garb and to mouth unconvincing claims about benefits of biometric identification in delivery of social welfare schemes. Wittingly or unwittingly, the merger of these schemes with biometric identification have done to use the former as a fish bait at the behest of Big Data companies. Such moves must be seen in conjunction with creation of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) with National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID). The reports of FICCI and ASSOCHAM underline it. These measures reveal that government is increasingly fearful of the people.

One year of presentation by Dr Vijay Shankar Madan, the Acting Chairman, UIDAI before Prime Minister on July 5, 2014.

August- New Indian Express wrote an editorial titled End of Privacy is Death Knell for Indian Democracy 5th August, 2015. Election Commission of India (ECI) issued an order dated 13th August, 2015 withdrawing from linking of biometric aadhaar with Voter Identity card exposes his misleading claims. ECI’s order demonstrates that Aadhaar is not all critical for a welfare state based on democratic elections. ECI’s compliance with Supreme Court’s verdict in letter and spirit is an affirmation of individual choice of the voters which gives meaning to democracy unlike illegitimate and legally questionable UIDAI. The order of ECI demonstrated that UIDAI’s contention and government’s efforts to link its services to aadhaar is flawed. 

Supreme Court’s interim order dated 11th August, 2015 in the matter of 12 digit biometric unique identity (UID)/aadhaar number was issued 11 days ahead of 109th Anniversary of the publication of the South African colonial government’s draft Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance which made Mahatma Gandhi to launch his first SATYAGRHA because it required all Asians including Indians in the Transvaal region of South Africa, eight years and above, to report to the Registrar of Asiatics and obtain, upon the submission of a complete set of fingerprints, a certificate which would then have to be produced upon demand. The move proposed stiff penalties, including deportation, for Indians who failed to comply with the terms of the Ordinance. The Ordinance was issued on 22nd August, 1906. Knowing the impact of the Ordinance and effective criminalisation of the entire community, Mahatma Gandhi then decided to challenge it. Calling the Ordinance a 'Black Act' he mobilised around 3,000 Indians in Johannesburg who took an oath not to submit to a degrading and discriminatory piece of legislation. Biometric aadhaar case demonstrates how 'Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it'.
Referring to Supreme Court’s interim order dated 11th August, 2015 in the matter of 12 digit biometric unique identity (UID)/aadhaar number as “travesty”, Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), one of the most globally reputed academic journals published since 1949 has written a pithy and noteworthy editorial in its recent issue saying, "The biggest failing of the Court’s interim order however is its own unenforceability. The only recourse that a citizen has against a government agency violating the Supreme Court’s order is to approach the Supreme Court itself in Delhi with a contempt petition, and hope for relief. This is simply out of the question for all but a negligible proportion of the country’s population. The likely effect will be that the use of the Aadhaar number, uncontrolled by law and carried on with reckless disregard for privacy concerns, will be expanded slowly but surely in defiance of the Court’s order."
Its editorial titled “A Legal Vacuum” is available at http://www.epw.in/editorials/legal-vacuum.html

Coincidentally, this order of the Court came ahead of Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech of 2015 wherein he claimed, “we have introduced LPG subsidy with direct benefit scheme in which jan dhan yojna and aadhar scheme was used and black marketing, intermediators etc were chucked out of the system. And thus approx 15,000 cr money was saved through this scheme” appears to be pregnant with far reaching implications for judiciary, executive, legislature and citizens. Such claims of savings due to Biometric Aadhaar are bogus given the fact that total estimated cost of the entire Aadhaar project has not been disclosed so far.  The EPW editorial unequivocally states, “The Supreme Court has failed to protect citizens from government illegality on Aadhaar.” editorial of Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) that underlines colossal failure of Supreme Court in protecting citizens from biometric aadhaar surveillance. The editorial refers to Supreme Court’s order on Privacy as “travesty”, a farce, sham, charade, caricature, parody & mockery.
Citizens’ opposition to UID/aadhaar has a historical context. It is linked to more than a century old world famous 'Satyagraha' of Mahatma Gandhi in order to oppose the identification scheme of the government in South Africa. Biometric profiling is inherently dangerous because it tracks individuals based on their religious, behavioural and/or biological traits. History is replete with examples wherein such profiling has been used for genocide, holocaust and violence against all kinds of minorities. 

September- On September 15, 2015, Nandan Nilekani wrote an article arguing that biometric Aadhaar can bring political, social and economic democracy in the country. Having built a “positive coalition of people who have a stake” in the success of biometric profiling based Aadhaar, he has disclosed that 'there is a huge coalition of organisations, governments, banks, companies, others who have a stake now' in the future of the biometric Aadhaar database. The idea was/is to 'create a positive coalition that has the power to overpower or deal with anyone who opposes it,' including the Supreme Court, Parliament, concerned political parties and peoples' movements. It is clear that the motivated definition of 'political, social and economic democracy' that he is offering is constructed to suit the interest of his coalition partners, not citizens.
Second Anniversary of Supreme Court’s order dated 23rd September, 2013 in JUSTICE K.S.PUTTASWAMY(RETD)& ANR Petitioner(s)

VERSUS UNION OF INDIA & ORS, WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO(s). 494 OF 2012 by the bench of Dr. Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice S.A. Bobde wherein it directed, “no person should suffer for not getting the Adhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Adhaar Card voluntarily”.

One year of presentation by Dr Vijay Shankar Madan, Acting Chairman, UIDAI titled “Digital ID for Benefit and Service Delivery to Billion Plus People” at the International Joint Conference on Biometrics held during 29th September – 2nd October 2014 at Clearwater, Florida, USA providing seven misleading features of biometric aadhaar. He made indefensible claims about “Uniqueness – Ensured through biometric attributes” The fact is that the fallibility of biometric attributes has been admitted in the contract agreements which UIDAI has signed with foreign companies. The claim of uniqueness of biometric data is a “postulate” which has been found inherently fallible. Besides the terms "biometric information" and "demographic information" have not been clearly defined.

Dr Madan falsely claimed in his presentation that biometric aadhaar is “Compliant with IT Act” and it is “Consent Based”. This is highly misleading. The legislative framework to govern aadhaar is National Identification Authority of India Bill which is yet to be passed. It is noteworthy that Section 46. (1) of the Bill proposed that “No court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act, save on a complaint made by the Authority or any officer or person authorised by it.” The fact is that aadhaar is coercion based. Since the aadhar number is to be used and applied "for delivery of various benefits and services", a citizen who does not have one may be denied access to these, while a resident, who may not be a citizen, would have access if he had obtained an aadhaar number. The claim that issuance of an aadhaar number has not been made compulsory is deceptive because residents who do not obtain one may find themselves at a disadvantage vis-à-vis those who do. This coercion is being done by linking the government departments with Central ID Data Repository (CIDR) of UIDAI. It robs the democratic rights of citizens.

Dr Madan claimed that aadhaar is “low cost”. The fact is that admittedly cost comparison has not been done. The report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance revealed that the cost of aadhaar identification scheme has not been compared with the cost of providing existing forms of identity. Madam claimed that aadhaar is “inclusive”. The written submission of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) revealed that it excludes people. It stated that “the possibility of discrimination cannot be ruled out” because every resident is entitled to obtain an Aadhar number, but UIDAI does not say that it would be issued to all citizens. Madan admitted that aadhaar will not “replace all other IDs.” If that is indeed the case where was the compelling need for aadhaar.

Dr Madan claimed that “Data remains federated and any transfer from one silo to another will require approvals as per law.” The fact is there is no law to stop transfer of data to other agencies as is evident from the contract agreements between foreign companies and UIDAI and the ongoing linking of electoral database with aadhaar. 

Dr Madan claimed that “a random 12-digit (aadhaar) number ...can act as a primary identifier throughout the life of an individual….This is done to an accuracy of above 99.9%. But the Report on Biometrics Design Standards for UID Applications, UIDAI Committee on Biometrics exposes the veracity of his claim. The report states, “there is also data to suggest that quality drops precipitously if attention is not given to operational processes….Empirical data has highlighted several non-technical factors that can impact accuracy.” It further admits, “Retaining efficacy while scaling the database size from 50 million to a billion has not been adequately analyzed. Second, fingerprint quality, the most important variable for determining de-duplication accuracy, has not been studied in depth in the Indian context.”


Other presenters at the Florida conference included Shukri Ali Al Braiki, Director, Population Register Department, Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA), UAE who gave a presentation on “The UAE Population Register and ID Card Program: Achievements and the Challenges Ahead”. There was a “Panel Session on Large Scale Identification Systems” chaired by: Nalini Ratha, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA who gave a presentation. The other panel members who gave presentation included Michael Garris, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Stéphane Gentric, Safran Morpho, William G. Mckinsey, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Charles Y. LI, International Business Machines (IBM). The conference was sponsored by companies like Lumidigm, part of HID Global, nilesen, Safran Morpho, 3dMD, Cognitec, Cross Resolve, Digital Signal Corporation, IB Integrated Biometrics, M&C and SRI International. It was supported by Hong Kong Polytechnic University, University of South Florida and University of Surrey. Notably, most of the agencies participating in the conference are involved in the implementation of aadhaar identification scheme.   

October- Fifth Anniversary of Central Government’s Approach Paper for Legislation on Privacy dated October 13, 2010. This paper admits, “India does not currently have a general data protection statute” as per information received from Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions through Letter Reference No.071/1/2010/-IR dated October 18, 2010. Till date admittedly, there is no data protection statute. This Paper also dwelled on the threat to privacy from UID/Aadhaar.

In contempt of Supreme Court’s repeated orders from September 23, 2013 to 15th October, 2015, an advertisement of Government of India has appeared in newspapers with Prime Minister’s smiling face urging the Indians to give their children between 0-5 and 5-18 years the gift of unique identity – biometric profiling based Aadhaar number. The advertisement is available at
http://tinyurl.com/pv32fn6 at the website of The Times of India. Court’s latest order dated October 15th, 2015 has kept the use of the Aadhaar, “purely” on “voluntary” basis, restricted to MNREGA, old age pension scheme, provident fund and Prime Minister's Jan Dhan Yojana, over and above PDS and LPG distribution schemes allowed earlier. Children do not figure in any of these schemes allowed by the Court on “purely voluntary” basis given the fact that the ration card is made in the name of the head of the family. Reacting to government’s deceptive advertisement, Major General (retd) (Dr) Sudhir Vombatkere, one of the petitioners in the aadhaar case said, “Children enrolling for Aadhaar cannot be said to be voluntary”.


Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) submitted a petition Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Information Technology on the subject of "Vulnerability and threats from online biometric-electronic aadhaar database, USA’s Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) & disclosures". It has drawn its urgent attention towards the Report of PSC on Information Technology on Cyber Crime, Cyber Security and Right to Privacy, and Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) in the US Senate which is being opposed by 22 technology companies including Apple, Google and Twitter on privacy grounds.

Second Anniversary of the statement of Communist Party of India (CPI) trying to impose it as objected to biometric aadhaar being illegal and unconstitutional if it was made compulsory for every social benefit. Its statement dated September 28, 2013 reads: “The Secretariat of the Communist Party of India, welcomes the judgement of Supreme Court that Aadhar Unique Identity Card is not mandatory for Social Benefit Schemes. CPI and Left are fighting on this issue for quite some time. Union Government was vague without clarifying whether it is mandatory or voluntary. But in practice it was trying to impose it as compulsory for every social benefit. It was illegal and unconstitutional. This judgement of the Supreme Court is a big relief to the people in the country.”

The same is available here:http://www.communistparty.in/2013/09/supreme-court-on-aadhar-card.html?q=aadhaar


November- Harvard National Identification Conference had a discussion on “21st Century Identification Systems: Data, Politics, Protection!” wherein Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Director General, UIDAI participated and Nandan Nilekani gave a speech at Harvard Kennedy School followed by discussion on “Inclusion and Exclusion: Ethical and human rights implications of identification systems in the context of statelessness”. It is not clear whether Pandey and Nilekani learnt any lessons from Government of USA abandonment of its biometric Real ID program like biometric Aadhaar.

Sixth Anniversary of disclosures on aadhaar and UIDAI by Wikileaks merits attention because it revealed government’s real motives. Wikileaks leaked a confidential document of UIDAI titled ‘Creating a unique identity number for every resident in India’ on 13th November, 2009. It revealed, “One way to ensure that the unique identification (UID) number is used by all government and private agencies is by inserting it into the birth certificate of the infant. Since the birth certificate is the original identity document, it is likely that this number will then persist as the key identifier through the individual’s various life events, such as joining school, immunizations, voting etc.” This paved way for all round surveillance adversely impacting political rights of present and future generations and making right to civil liberties extinct.

Fifth Anniversary of Nilekani being given ID Limelight Award at the ID WORLD International Congress, 2010 in Milan, Italy on 16th November wherein Safran Morpho (Safran group) was a key sponsor of the ID Congress. Its subsidiary, Sagem Morpho Security Pvt Ltd has been awarded contract for the purchase of Biometric Authentication Devices on 2nd February, 2011 by the UIDAI. Similar award has already been given to a Pakistani official who is involved in a similar exercise through National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Pakistani Ministry of Interior. The involvement of similar or same companies in both India and Pakistan has not been ruled out as yet.

Earlier, on 30 July 2010, in a joint press release, it was announced that “the Mahindra Satyam and Morpho led consortium has been selected as one of the key partners to implement and deliver the Aadhaar program by UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India).” This means that at least two contracts have been awarded to the French conglomerate led consortium.  Is it a coincidence that Morpho (Safran group) sponsored the award to chairman, UIDAI and the former got a contract from the latter?

Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) submitted a petition addressed to Dr Shashi Tharoor, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on External Affairs on the subject of "Disclosures by Mr Assange, Mr Snowden and deleterious implications of transnational communication and surveillance companies for India’s foreign policy."

December- Third Anniversary of the statement of Communist Party of India (Marxist)-CPI (M) objecting to UIDAI’s links with US companies having links with US intelligence agencies. In a statement titled, “Aadhar Compromised” dated December 5, 2013 reads:  “The report that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has tied up with a US company with CIA links is a matter of deep concern.  According to a report in the Economic Times, a US company, MongoDB, is providing the software to manage the data base for the registration of Aadhar.  One of the investors in this company is the CIA. Earlier too, the UIDAI had entered into contracts with the US based company, L-1 Identity Solutions, and another French company for the Aadhar project.  The collection of personal data and biometrics of all Indian citizens through the Aadhar programme has been made available to the United State’s agencies through the employment of these companies. It is now known through the Snowden files that the US authorities have been suborning all data through US telecom and internet companies.  The Indian government and the UIDAI has compromised the vital data collected of Indian citizens by such tie-ups. The UIDAI collection of data has no legal basis. It is also being used illegally to make the Aadhar number compulsory for delivery of social services and subsidies. The Polit Bureau demands the cancellation of the tie-up with foreign companies and a suspension of the Aadhar scheme till Parliament deliberates and decides on its future and, if required, a legislative enactment.” The same is available at http://www.cpim.org/content/aadhar-compromised 

Second Anniversary of the speech of Prof. Tarun Naskar, Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist)-SUCI (Communist) MLA prior to unanimous passage of the Resolution on Aadhaar by West Bengal Assembly dated December 2, 2013. It reads: “Supporting the government resolution on making mandatory the aadhaar card for the subsidy of cooking gas, I want to put my views a bit. The Central Government has resorted price hike reducing the subsidy on cooking gas which results acute economic pressure on lower and middle class. There should be no any role of a public welfare state in the arrangement of up and down of the prices of petroleum products in the international market. I strongly protest this policy of the central government. It may be mention here that the claim about the loss of the oil companies is not true at all, because the amount of profit of all the private oil companies including Bharat Petroleum, HP and others is increasing every year. The protest of aadhaar card should be on more ethical ground as it has been protested keeping in mind the view of the resolution of the government. We do not know how the data base collected through the images of eyes and face including finger prints of all ten fingers of all the people will be utilized. It has come to our knowledge that these data are out sourced to different domestic and foreign companies. Beside it, no legislation has been enacted to make 12 digits adhar cards. The respective Parliamentary Standing Committee has in the mean time termed it as “unethical and violation of Parliament’s prerogatives”. Because, this kind of legislation has never passed in parliament. This is a project where there is still no feasibility study, there is no cost – benefit analysis. The abuse of power for ulterior motive, spying on political opponents, subversion of basic human rights and harassing activists of democratic rights are regular features in our country, the use of these data base is suspicious. Beside it, in the mean time when High Court of Punjab and Haryana right from Andhra Pradesh has given their verdicts against it and recently even the Supreme Court did not support the government’s policies, how the policy of the Central Government be supported.” This is the English    translation Prof. Tarun Naskar’s submission in Bengali in West Bengal Assembly.

Ninth Anniversary of the formation of an Empowered Group of Ministers (E-GoM) comprising of A Raja, the Union Minister, the minister-in-charge responsible for UID and others. Prime Minister had constituted the E-GoM on 4th December, 2006.

One of the earliest documents that refer UIDAI is a 14-page long document titled ‘Strategic Vision: Unique Identification of Residents’ prepared by Wipro Ltd and submitted to the Processes Committee of the Planning Commission (set up in July 2006) finally emerged. This document envisaged the close linkage that the UIDAI would have with the electoral database. The records related to creation of UIDAI, be it from the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister’s Council on UIDAI, E-GoM, GOM and Committee of Secretaries need to be put on record to enable the Supreme Court to examine their legality. The Court has not examined them as yet. Central Government has failed to submit all the records in the matter of creation of UIDAI.

After accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the third Express IT Awards on 7th December, 2015, Nandan Nilekani said, “I am delighted that the NDA government has embraced Aadhaar and given it so much momentum. When I left Aadhaar, we had 600 million cards, now there are 940 million. It will reach a billion mark in the next three to four months”.
Economic Times (ET) View reads, “The government needs to ensure that Aadhaar results in more efficient delivery of benefits to the intended users. If by linking all benefits, the government can demonstrate a perceptible reduction in leakages, corruption in the delivery system by reducing middlemen, and improvements by ensuring better accountability of all government benefits, that should be proof enough for the Supreme Court” on 31st December, 2015.
It is apparent that such awards are an exercise in quid pro quo. These newspapers keep publishing advertisements from UIDAI promoting Aadhaar. The news reports on Aadhaar and related awards seem to fall in the category of Paid News.  
Imphal Free Press wrote about Biometric Aadhaar saying, “This is one of the most successful and ambitious campaign in the present generation to befool both the illiterate as well as the literate ‘educate’ population of the country with an ad of ‘Unique’” on December 11, 2015. Notably, Assam and Meghalaya appear to be the most enlightened among the States which have less than 2 % enrollment.  It is apparent that there are still some publications and websites that do not succumb to temptations of Paid News and uphold truth in their work.

                                              These developments need to be looked at in the backdrop of RTI replies and disclosures by Wikileaks in this regard.

In the matter of RTI application seeking complete copy of contract of UIDAI with M/s L1 Identity Solutions for Biometric Technology signed on August 24, 2010 and copy of contract of UIDAI with M/s Accenture for Biometric Technology dated September 1, 2010, on October 14, 2014, Vijay Bhalla, Deputy Registrar, Central Information Commission (CIC) wrote a letter on behalf of Sharat Sabharwal, Information Commissioner, CIC to Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) & Deputy Director, UIDAI stating, “I am directed to convey that you should, within two weeks of the receipt of this order, provide to the Appellant the limited information i.e. financial quotation/price by the third party firms in the subject tender as disclosure of it would not inflict any harm to the competitive position of third party firms at this stage when the contract have already expired.”

Responding to this letter written on behalf of Sharat Sabharwal, Information Commissioner, CIC to UIDAI, Subrata Das, the CPIO & Deputy Director, UIDAI wrote to the RTI Appellant on October 22, 2014 in compliance with the CIC decision on the second Appeal hearing dated September 30, 2014.

UIDAI’s letter reads, “The requisite letter in compliance with the CIC decision is as under: 
(i)              financial quotation/price quoted by M/s Accenture Services Pvt Ltd is Rs 2.75/ (inclusive of taxes) as a unit price for Enrollment Allotted Transaction for De-duplication Services
(ii)            financial quotation/price quoted by M/s L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company Pvt Ltd is Rs 2.75/ (inclusive of taxes) as a unit price for Enrollment Allotted Transaction for De-duplication Services
This reply implies that for each of the Indian residents targeted for aadhaar enrolment, the taxpayer through the central government will have to incur the cost of Rs 2.75 to the companies in question. This is significant because this is not a one-time cost but each time de-duplication of aadhaar number is done, the cost will be incurred.

A communication titled ‘Biometrics Stir the Pot in the UAE’ dated 22nd November, 2003, sent by some unidentified US official from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Group Destinations Arab Israeli Collective, Secretary of State, US and Dubai, UAE and to undecipherable location named ‘RUCNFSC CFSC SA COLLECTIVE’ merits attention.  This communication was brought to light by Wikileaks. Its import can be appreciated only if its following text is read:

“The Public Affairs and Consular Section in Abu Dhabi hosted a Press Briefing on the fingerprinting of NIV applicants at the US Embassy. In addition, Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) and Consular Chief briefed the Director of Consular Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on the new Fingerprinting Procedures at the Embassy. Newspapers published accurate, informational stories and the Director of Consular Affairs expressed his understanding. Although one UAE official has refused to be fingerprinted saying he was being treated like a "Criminal," the UAE's majority Third-Country Nationals (TCN) are taking it all in stride, already subject to fingerprinting and retinal scans by the UAE and Emirate-level Governments.”NIV stands for Non-Immigrant Visas (NIV).

This reporting of UAE’s response to fingerprinting and retinal scans sounds like the reaction of different ministries of Government of India and Indian media, most of whom like their UAE’s counterparts did “accurate, informational stories.” But unlike the one official in UAE, who refused to be fingerprinted, in India, one did not learn about any civil servant who refused to enroll for biometric identification in the pronounced manner.
 
The communication further revealed that a foreign team installed fingerprinting collection devices on 23rd October, 2003 at the interview windows in conjunction with the consular section's routine computer upgrade schedule. After the installation, the consular section began collecting fingerprints from the required NIV applicants on 2nd November, 2003.

It is noteworthy that US embassy officials are reporting even the work of plumbers of fingerprint machines and installation of biometric devices to Secretary of State and their intelligence allies in Arab States, Israel and to undecodable locations. Do Indian officials, senior political leaders and concerned citizens realize its import?

The Wikileaked communication informs that journalists and photographers from all UAE’s English and Arabic dailies were called for briefing them “about the new biometric collection procedures” so that public is informed about it. This communication informs: “journalists focused primarily on the appropriateness of fingerprinting and questioned whether or not the fingerprinting was focused on Arab and Muslim audiences. Vice Consul responded that this was not the case, and, as reassurance, showed journalists the stacks of old computers the Orkand team has just finished replacing with new Pentium IV systems. (Comment: we recommend other posts do the same if possible, as this seemed convincing to the journalists present.)”

It goes on report that following this briefing to media, on 6 November 2003, journalists published stories based on the information provided to them including “the implementation of fingerprinting solely based on routine maintenance schedules and mentioning Frankfurt, Brussels, San Salvador, and Guatemala City as the first Fingerprinting Posts.”

This shows how journalists are/ were taken for a ride because they were made to believe that it was just a routine case of replacing old equipments with new equipments. It appears that the same tactics has been replicated in India in the matter of Aadhaar, National Population Register (NPR) and other places where biometric identification is being made mandatory.

On 9th November, 2003, there was a meeting with the Director of Consular Affairs at the UAE‘s MFA, wherein the Director expressed “his understanding of the need to move towards biometrics to enhance the security of the United States. He briefly commented on the retinal scans in place at UAE ports of entry for certain categories of visitors to the UAE, in particular workers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He expressed satisfaction that fingerprinting did not apply to A- 1 and A-2 visa categories.”

It is clear yet again that the biometric devices are getting installed not because of any domestic compulsion of the Asian or African countries but because countries like US want it installed. This also demonstrates that those wielding diplomatic and official immunity do not hesitate to barter away their citizens’ rights if their temporary individual rights and privileges remain intact.
  
This cable from US embassy in UAE records that “public reaction to the initiation of fingerprinting of NIV applicants has been mixed. The UAE population is more disturbed by the prospect of fingerprinting than the UAE's majority TCN population. Consular staff have not received complaints from TCN applicants, who have their fingerprints taken for residence visas and IDs by federal and emirate-level governments. Certain TCNs are also subject to retinal scans at UAE airports.” The TCN population refers to Third-Country Nationals. A TCN is an employee who is not a citizen of the home or host countries.

It reads “Reaction by UAE nationals, on the other hand, remains mixed. The vast majority of UAE national student and tourist visa applicants have complied quietly and calmy when requested for their fingerprints. The prospect for turmoil with government officials and prominent UAE nationals, however, remains to be seen. One UAE senior university administrator official, the subject of a Class A Visa referral, refused to come to the embassy and told pas staff that he "would not be treated like a criminal." This reaction only stresses the continuing need to inform applicants that biometric capture capability not only enhances national border security to the benefit of US citizens and permanent residents, but increases the safety and security of visitors to the United States as well.”The communication reveals that promoters of biometric devices were expecting some “turmoil” but as things unfolded they were happy to witness unquestioned obedience of government officials and prominent UAE nationals like in India.

A secret cable, which was created on 17th December, 2009 and Wikileaked on the 23rd April, 2011 revealed that like in UAE, the US’ State Department is deeply curious about UID, India's biometric data based identification program. It asked its embassy in India to provide information about the progress or status of the Indian biometric ID card's development and deployment and wished to know “India's strategic plan for utilizing biometric ID card technology in the military, law enforcement, and private sectors.”

It sought to know as to which government agencies will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the national ID card biometric collection strategy, how do authorities plan to utilise the biometric ID card at India's borders, ports, and airports, which foreign countries and/or corporations are assisting in the development of the ID card, which biometric systems (i.e. fingerprints, facial recognition, iris scan, etc.) will be incorporated into the card, what prompted development of the ID card, which company is providing the biometric collection devices, storage, and matching database equipment, which organizations/agencies within India will have access to information gathered by the biometric ID card collection devices, what systems, databases, or portals will the named biometric ID card collection devices in India communicate with, will the ID card be accepted for passport applications, what types of anti-fraud measures do Indian authorities plan to incorporate in the issuance process and what security features are planned for the ID card, will the card be International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) compliant and will it use any encryption and any efforts to "spoof" or defeat biometric enrollment, such as fingerprint alteration.

The cable asked these questions but it prefaced it with few observations. It reads: “Washington analysts read with keen interest recent press reports about a proposed biometric national ID project in India …the project has been billed at recent trade conferences as the largest biometric enrollment ever proposed and is the biggest biometric  initiative anticipated in 2010.  Despite promised improvements, the cards would provide, analysts are concerned the program could present a vulnerable target for regional extremist groups -- such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba -- who could obtain fraudulent Indian ID cards during the large-scale enrollment for use in travel or as breeder documents to apply for passports.”

This cable gives the impression that US agencies have been following the project from its incubation stage.

It underlined that with regard to answers to the questions posed that “results of these requirements will be incorporated into a strategic assessment for senior US policymakers on the regional implications in South Asia of the biometric ID program.”

Another cable dated 4th September, 2008 released by Wikileaks reveals that US Ambassador to India met with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on 2nd September, 2008 wherein the name of would be chief of UID/ Aadhaar, Nandan Nileakni figured for a Sub-group of US-India CEO Forum for educational collaboration which was to provide a report after the elections. Notably, this cable from New Delhi was sent to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Council, Secretary of Defense among others. Notably, Nileakni was one of the eight members of National Knowledge Commission (NKC) headed by Sam Pitroda who advocates identification and tagging of every object in India through his Public Information Infrastructure initiative.

US Embassy’s cable for the week of 29th June to 2nd July 2009 notes that the UID “project is expected to cost about Rs1,500 billion ($31.5 billion), and technological challenges in creating tamper-proof smart cards capable of handling Indian conditions are expected. According to press reports, the GoI may exclude private companies from participating due to the large amount of confidential information involved in the program. The public sector company Bharat Electronics Ltd has already issued over 120,000 smart cards under a GoI pilot project to establish a multipurpose national identity card, and is likely to be one of the key players.” It is noteworthy that eventually Indian government did not exclude private companies.

With regard to the National Smart Card Identification System, the wikileaked cables reveal that “Joint Secretary (Telecom) JS Deepak told Econoffs that the first meeting between Additional Secretary of Department of Telecom Subodh Kumar, Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and founder of Infosys, and Indian telecom service providers was held on 24th September to discuss the roll-out of the unique identification (UID) program. Earlier this year, the GoI set up the UIDAI to implement a Unique Identification card project, which will own the database of residents along with their biometric information….Joint Secretary Deepak noted that despite the inherent challenges posed by the massive scale of this program, the introduction of UID will transform the way Indians do business in the areas of Government-to-Citizen interaction. He said the ID would be useful for a multitude of purposes, including elections, taxation, national security, and banking. Deepak, a former USAID employee responsible for global social programs, was enthusiastic about the UID's potential to greatly reduce 'leakage' in government subsidies and benefit payments, including the NREGA program, and for its ability to also transform provision of education and healthcare.” Econoffs refers to US Embassy’s Economic Office. This communication was sent from New Delhi as part of its report for week of 21st to 24th September, 2009. It is noteworthy that Deepak’s credential as former employee of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been mentioned. Earlier, Bolivia and Russia have expelled USAID from their countries. In Pakistan in protest against drone strike there Pakistani Punjab government has refused to accept US aid.  US based agencies reportedly supervised Cuban twitter like program- ‘ZunZuneo’-using front companies based in Cayman Islands and other places for cooking unrest there. Interestingly, the $1.6 million spent on it was channeled in the name of an unspecified project in Pakistan since 2009.

While the background behind the operationalization of the biometric ID project reveals the opaque manner in which it took off, ramifications of launch of such projects demonstrates its true colours. In the book, Paper Citizens, its author Kamal Sadiq records, “In Ivory Coast, a national identity card scheme was central to a national politics that slid into civil war”. This issue became a major factor in the civil war given the fact that ruling party and opposition party held diametrically opposite views on documentary citizenship.

The insistence of documentary citizenship based on national identity card has also given birth to the business of fake identity cards, identity thefts and imposters. Dwelling on the situation in African countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia, in a 2001 paper “Disenfranchising the North through the National Identity Card scheme” Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa, general editor of Weekly PYRAMID – The Magazine said, “In most of the organized world identity cards have never been election requirements” and concluded, “The ID card is a much more benign form of genocide if it gets to pass.”

The distinguishing identity of citizens and non-citizens is getting blurred because of the idea of documentary citizenship based on biometric identification being deeply planted by US and EU based security agencies and companies. This leads to creation and naturalization of 24X7 continental and transboundary surveillance on human movement that opens the possibility wherein national ID card would be a ticket to the loss of much of personal freedom and intergenerational and intra generational rights.

Non-BJP and other non-Congress opposition parties do not realize that like Ivory Coast, a civil war can happen in India too because of biometric and electronic identification. All the international agencies, which are involved in promotion of unique identification (UID) through Planning Commission, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), residential addresses and land titles in India were involved there as well.
Non-Congress and non-BJP parties must resist subjecting of citizens to biometric surveillance through the ongoing merger of aadhaar, NPR Voter ID card and the Electronic Voting Machines. The servility of the Congress and BJP towards agencies like US National Security Agency (NSA) and their infantile reactions in the face of evidence that the entire union cabinet was under NSA’s surveillance must be remembered as one of the dark chapters of Indian history. In its abject meekness Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) did not hide even an iota of information from the NSA but it is reluctant to share its correspondence with Nandan Nilekani under the Right to RTI Act.
The role of Ministry of Telecom in conceptualizing or launching UID/Aadhaar program under A Raja’s tenure as its minister in charge merits examination by the central government if national interest is to be protected given the fact that “Surveillance is based on a system of permanent registration. It is a decisive economic operator” as underlined by Michel Foucault, in his book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of Prison.

Not surprisingly, scholars like Ashis Nandy, the author of The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under colonialism have referred to UID/Aadhaar number as prison number.

Jurists like Dr Usha Ramanathan say, “The challenge to the UID project is, of course, much more than privacy. Much, much more. Convergence, surveillance, national security, matters of personal liberty, the power the data controller wields over the data subject, the inversion of the relationship between the state and the citizen, exclusion, data as property, the failure to make a law, the deliberated flouting of court orders, the conversion of voluntary enrolment into mandatory enrolment on threat of being left out, untested biometrics, no informed consent about the uses to which the data will be subjected, the absence of an exit option to get out of the UIDAI data base, the lack of accountability if there is a failure in the system and someone suffers in consequence, the handing over of the NPR data to the UIDAI which will then ‘own’ it (according to the notification that set it up) ….” 

Dr Ramanathan wrote that the idea of seeding has been put to rest by the interim order of Supreme Court which categorically states: “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 (for PDS and for fuel).” Seeding in various data bases will, by this order, have to cease forthwith. So, the Election Commission’s exercise in seeding their data base with the UID number will have to stop. So, too, for instance, the sharing of the NPR data with the UIDAI. This is an important privacy protection that the court has ensured till the petitions challenging the UID project is finally heard and decided. The only exception that the court has made, unsolicited it would seem, is in the event of a court directing the use of the data ‘for purposes of criminal investigation’. The UIDAI has been proclaiming that their data is incapable of being used for criminal investigation; but it seems the court has not paid heed to this cry of protest. The government’s denial of the existence of the fundamental right to privacy is, of course, not innocent at all. This happened at the same time that the government was arguing in another court down the corridor that privacy was the reason it wants to retain the defamation clause in criminal law. It is also the time that it is considering the passage of a Human DNA Profiling Bill, aspiring to create a DNA Data Bank.”

Biometric Aadhaar and related programs are giving a birth to a modern biometric based Prison for residents of India at their own expense facilitated by the propaganda unleashed by transnational commercial czars who are conquering public space and media with Paid News and other allurements. Did media inform about the emergence of a police state in Germany in the 1930s?   

The complicity of a large section of media must be seen in the context of Statement of Concern issued by Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India, Prof Romila Thapar, Historian, K.G.Kannabiran, Senior Civil Liberties Lawyer, Kavita Srivastava, PUCL and Right to Food Campaign, Aruna Roy, MKKS, Rajasthan, Nikhil Dey, MKKS, Rajasthan, S.R.Sankaran, Retired Secretary, Government of India, Deep Joshi, Independent Consultant, Upendra Baxi, Jurist and ex-Vice Chancellor of Universities of Surat and Delhi, Uma Chakravarthi, Historian, Shohini Ghosh, Teacher and Film Maker, Amar Kanwar, Film Maker, Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan, Trilochan Sastry, IIMB, and Association for Democratic Reforms, Prof. Jagdish Chhokar, ex- IIMA, and Association for Democratic Rights, Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD and Justice A.P.Shah, Retired Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi at Press Club of India, New Delhi on 28th September, 2010 which was largely boycotted by imbedded media. Taking note of rejection by Aadhaar like projects by Australia, China, UK, USA and other countries the statement sought halting of the Aadhaar project. 

That section of media whose owners promote Paid News ignored the Public Statement issued in October 2015 Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Scientist, All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE), Bhopal, Prof. Kalpana Kannabiran, Director, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad, Prof (Dr) Mohan Rao, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH), Jawaharal Nehru University (JNU), Dr Meher Engineer, Scientist, former President, Indian Academy of Social Science, Kolkata, Ram Bahadur Rai, noted journalist, Dr Babu Rao Kalapala, Scientist, formerly with National Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Women Association (AIPWA), Prof D M Diwakar, Professor of Economics, A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna, Arun Kumar, former Member, Press Council of India, Indian Journalists Union, General Secretary, Bihar Working Journalists Union & President, The Times of India Newspaper Employees Union, Patna, Sankar Ray, veteran journalist, N D Jayaprakash, Disarmament Researcher & veteran activist seeking justice for victims of Bhopal disaster, Qaneez Sukhrani, urban affairs analyst, Pune, Kshetrimayum Onil, Lead Coordinator, REACHOUT, Manipur Shabnam Hashmi, social activist, Anhad, Irfan Ahmed, General Secretary, All India Tanjin-e-Insaf, Bihar, Guman Singh, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Himachal Pradesh, Dr Umakant, Human rights advocate & independent scholar, PT George, Intercultural Resources, Delhi, Wilfred D’ Costa, Indian Social Action Forum, Delhi, Prakash K Ray, Editor, bargad.org, Gopal Krishna, Member, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Coordinator, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Dr Vikas Vajpayee, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH), JNU and Rohit Prajapati, social activist, Gujarat. The Public Statement against aadhaar and Human DNA Profiling Bill was released at Indian Women Press Corps, New Delhi.

A Dalit activist who was one of the eminent citizens who signed the statement said, "This project wants to fix our identities through time. Even after that we are dead. The information held about us will be fixed to us by the UID number. Changing an identity will become impossible. We are working for the eradication of the practice of manual scavenging, for rehabilitation of those who have been engaged in manual scavenging, and then leaving behind that tag of manual scavenger. How can we accept a system that does not allow us to shed that identity and move on? How can a number that links up databases be good for us?"
Meanwhile, a Supreme Court bench of 5 judges, Chief Justice of India H L Dattu, M.Y. Eqbal, C. Nagappan, Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy heard the case of 12 digit biometric aadhaar identification number project and passed the order on 15th October. After hearing the 12 digit biometric aadhaar number case, Supreme Court’s Bench ruled that “We impress upon the Union of India that it shall strictly follow all the earlier orders passed by this Court commencing from 23.09.2013."  In this regard Supreme Court’s order of 24th March, 2014 in the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Vs Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Case is most categorical as it leaves no room for ambiguity. This order dated 8th December, 2014 has been relied upon by Central Information Commission (CIC) to give its decision in File No.CIC/SS/A/2014/000518. Its decision is available at http://rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SA_A_2014_000518_M_143631.pdf

Supreme Court bench of 5 judges reiterated, "We will also make it clear that the Aadhaar card Scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this Court one way or the other." The Court has issued repeated directions since 23rd September, 2013 till 16th October, 2015 to this effect.  On 11th August, 2015, the Court had directed that "Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card; The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen”. This has not been complied with in letter and spirit.

In an interview, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks informed Imran Khan about the grave act of omission and commission. Assange said, “…we discovered a cable in 2009 from the Islamabad Embassy. Prime minister Gilani and interior minister Malik went into the (US) embassy and offered to share National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) – and NADRA is the national data and registration agency database. The system is currently connected through passport data but the government of Pakistan is adding voice and facial recognition capability and has installed a pilot biometric system as the Chennai border crossing, where 30,000 to 35,000 people cross each day. This NADRA system is the voting record system for all voters in Pakistan. A front company was set up in the United Kingdom – International Identity Services, which was hired as the consultants for NADRA to squirrel out the NADRA data for all of Pakistan. What do you think about that? Is that a…? It seems to me that that is a theft of some national treasure of Pakistan, the entire Pakistani database registry of its people.” The interview is available here

In a related development, National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Ministry of Interior, Pakistan is also undertaking a similar exercise. Is it a coincidence that both the countries are undertaking the exercise at the same time? Will it prevent drone attacks and the ignominy of mouthing verbal opposition to such assaults on its sovereignty? The core question is: what has improved in Pakistan due to NADRA’s citizens’ database except facilitating precision targets by drones? It must be noted that Biometric Aadhaar too is about creating unique resident identity like Pakistan’s version of biometric exercise for citizens’ identity card which was completed by NADRA, ministry of interior, Government of Pakistan and their database has been handed over to US Government.

Was NADRA made accountable for this theft of national treasure of Pakistan? Will census commissioner & registrar general of India be made accountable if “rich data assets” are stolen or sold? Has anyone been made accountable till date?

Claims of UIDAI and the central government is an exercise in articulation of empty words. Given the fact that some 91,000 of USA’s classified pages reached the website of Wikileaks in 2010 reveals how such claims of security and privacy are mere hollow claims with no privacy law in the country. Union Ministry of Planning, the nodal ministry for aadhaar informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that concerns sharing of data, surveillance and profiling is being addressed by a proposed legislation on privacy. The committee observed that the enactment of such data protection law is a "pre-requisite for any law that deals with large-scale collection of information from individuals and its linkages across separate databases." The law has not been enacted till date. Thus, the claim of UIDAI and the central government is bogus. The need for "protection of information" is recognized in theory but there is no provision for relief/compensation to the wronged person. The transfer of biometric and demographic data to foreign companies for seven years as per contract agreements with UIDAI exposes the untruthfulness of this claim. This has compromised national security in an unprecedented manner. 

Taking note of these court orders of Supreme Court, it is high time states and other agencies unsigned the MoUs they have signed with illegal and illegitimate Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). In 2016, States ruled by opposition parties should pave the way for protection of national security and civil rights instead of waiting for the Court to tell them how to act with political imagination to safeguard hard earned political rights.


For Details: Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660, E-mail:1715krishna@gmail.com