uid

When I opposed Aadhaar in 2010 , I was called a BJP stooge. In 2016 I am still opposing Aadhaar for the same reasons and I am told I am a Congress die hard. No one wants to see why I oppose Aadhaar as it is too difficult. Plus Aadhaar is FREE so why not get one ? Ram Krishnaswamy

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mahatma Gandhi

In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. Mahatma Gandhi

“The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21. The right to privacy is not a guaranteed under the constitution, because privacy is not a fundamental right.” Article 21 of the Indian constitution refers to the right to life and liberty -Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi

“There is merit in the complaints. You are unwittingly allowing snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation. The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.” -A three judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said in an interim order.

Legal scholar Usha Ramanathan describes UID as an inverse of sunshine laws like the Right to Information. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizen, the UID does the inverse: it makes the citizen transparent to the state, she says.

Good idea gone bad
I have written earlier that UID/Aadhaar was a poorly designed, unreliable and expensive solution to the really good idea of providing national identification for over a billion Indians. My petition contends that UID in its current form violates the right to privacy of a citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is because sensitive biometric and demographic information of citizens are with enrolment agencies, registrars and sub-registrars who have no legal liability for any misuse of this data. This petition has opened up the larger discussion on privacy rights for Indians. The current Article 21 interpretation by the Supreme Court was done decades ago, before the advent of internet and today’s technology and all the new privacy challenges that have arisen as a consequence.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha

“What is Aadhaar? There is enormous confusion. That Aadhaar will identify people who are entitled for subsidy. No. Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t,” Jairam Ramesh

But Aadhaar has been mythologised during the previous government by its creators into some technology super force that will transform governance in a miraculous manner. I even read an article recently that compared Aadhaar to some revolution and quoted a 1930s historian, Will Durant. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

“I know you will say that it is not mandatory. But, it is compulsorily mandatorily voluntary,” Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Saba April 2017


Special

Here is what the Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, which examined the draft N I A Bill said.

1. There is no feasibility study of the project]

2. The project was approved in haste

3. The system has far-reaching consequences for national security

4. The project is directionless with no clarity of purpose

5. It is built on unreliable and untested technology

6. The exercise becomes futile in case the project does not continue beyond the present number of 200 million enrolments

7. There is lack of coordination and difference of views between various departments and ministries of government on the project

Quotes

What was said before the elections:

NPR & UID aiding Aliens – Narendra Modi

"I don't agree to Nandan Nilekeni and his madcap (UID) scheme which he is trying to promote," Senior BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha, Sept 2012

"All we have to show for the hundreds of thousands of crore spent on Aadhar is a Congress ticket for Nilekani" Yashwant Sinha.(27/02/2014)

TV Mohandas Pai, former chief financial officer and head of human resources, tweeted: "selling his soul for power; made his money in the company wedded to meritocracy." Money Life Article

Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government - Home Minister Chidambaram

To refer to Aadhaar as an anti corruption tool despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary is mystifying. That it is now officially a Rs.50,000 Crores solution searching for an explanation is also without any doubt. -- Statement by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP & Member, Standing Committee on Finance

Finance minister P Chidambaram’s statement, in an exit interview to this newspaper, that Aadhaar needs to be re-thought completely is probably the last nail in its coffin. :-) Financial Express

The Rural Development Ministry headed by Jairam Ramesh created a road Block and refused to make Aadhaar mandatory for making wage payment to people enrolled under the world’s largest social security scheme NRGA unless all residents are covered.


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Monday, March 7, 2016

9441 - UID- Budget by Usha Ramanathan

UID- Budget by Usha Ramanathan


 The Finance Minister in his budget speech has said that they will be giving the `aadhaar platform’ a statutory framework. He intends to introduce it in a bill for Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services. All benefits, subsidies and services funded from the consolidated fund of India are to be channelled through the aadhaar platform. Interestingly, Mr Jaitley now says that the “aadhaar number or authentication shall not, however, confer any right of citizenship or domicile”.
The proposal does not, of course, amount to a law that will govern the UID project. This is merely an attempt to legalise the compulsion that the UPA and the BJP governments have been practising all along, in wanton violation of the Supreme Court’s orders. (There are many of these orders, by the way, made on 23 September 2013, 26 November 2013, 24 March 2014, 16 March 2015, 11 August 2015, 15 October 2015 – and they have been observed mainly in the breach.)
This is a simplistic response to what is really a complex matter. There is a bill pending in the Rajya Sabha – the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 – which has been considered by a Parliamentary Standing Committee. The Standing Committee, cutting across party lines, and chaired by Mr Yashwant Sinha, rejected the Bill and the project for a range of reasons that they set out in the report. Those concerns need to be addressed. There are a range of cases challenging the project on grounds that include convergence and surveillance, biometrics as untested technology, the role of foreign firms connected with the security establishments in their countries and the national security implications it raised, privacy, data as property, threat of exclusion from services and entitlements, the absence of a law governing the project. These cannot be brushed aside. The government argued, in the context of the UID project, that privacy is not a fundamental right, and convinced the court that it should refer the matter to be decided by a larger bench. The court obliged, and the question now hangs in unhappy uncertainty till it is heard and decided by the larger bench. Till it is decided, it is the citizen’s rights that need to be safeguarded.
If the government intends to use aadhaar, it must surely at least find out if it can work as identification?  In the past six months at least, the UIDAI page carries an admission that biometrics is still in the stage of being researched. A Unique Biometrics Centre of Competence has been set up in the UIDAI whose `mission’ is to “design biometrics system that enables India to achieve uniqueness in the national registry. The endeavour of designing such a system is an ongoing quest to innovate biometrics technology appropriate for the Indian conditions”. In the opening section titled “UBCC and Research”, the document reads: “Biometrics features are selected to be primary mechanisms for ensuring uniqueness. No country has undertaken to build a national registry at the scale and accuracy as UIDAI initiative. Nature and diversity of India's working population adds another challenge to achieving uniqueness through biometric features. Like other technology fields such as telecommunication, we do not have experience like developed countries to leverage for designing UIDAI's biometrics systems…Therefore, it is necessary to create a UIDAI Biometrics Centre of Competence that focuses on the unique challenges of UIDAI”.
This comes as no surprise. In January-February 2010, in a document that was an invitation to biometrics consultants, the UIDAI had been candid: “There is a lack of a sound study that documents the accuracy achievable on Indian demographics (i.e., larger percentage of rural population) and in Indian environmental conditions (i.e., extremely hot and humid climate and facilities without air-conditioning). In fact we could not find any credible study assessing the achievable accuracy in any of the developing countries….The ‘quality’ assessment of fingerprint data is not sufficient to fully understand the achievable de-duplication accuracy”. Yet, the decision to adopt the technology had been made even before the Proof of Concept was done.
In court, the Attorney General waved a `micro-ATM’, aiming to impress the looker-on with the genius of the technology that was so little and could perform the miracle of taking money to the doorstep. What he did not say was that it is not automatic, it does not dispense cash, and it is controlled by a person who acts as the teller and who is to hand over cash. This is the Business Correspondent. A 2009 RBI report and the Economic Survey for 2015-16 speak in one voice about the problems with the BC model, and the unpreparedness for last mile connectivity.

How, in this midst, has the Finance Minister decided that aadhaar is the solution? And, if he goes ahead with this change, where is the protection for the citizen if the technology fails them?

Usha Ramanathan

March 2, 2016