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