uid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 24, 2017: The nine-judge Constitution Bench rules that right to privacy is “intrinsic to life and liberty” and is inherently protected under the various fundamental freedoms enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the World; indeed it's the only thing that ever has"

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” - Edward Snowden

Special

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

1. There is no feasibility study of the project]

2. The project was approved in haste

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

4. The project is directionless with no clarity of purpose

5. It is built on unreliable and untested technology

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

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

Quotes

What was said before the elections:

NPR & UID aiding Aliens – Narendra Modi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

9450 - Aadhaar Bill: The NDA must not cut-and-paste UPA’s bill - Hindustan Times


  • Rajeev ChandrasekharUpdated: Mar 07, 2016 01:12 IST
After over six years and crores of public money spent without any scrutiny, Aadhaar is being brought into Parliament to be debated. Like many other things that the UPA left behind, this one too is being repaired from its original unusable form into one that can be used by the NDA government.

Rightly, this new Bill is called the Aadhaar Bill, rather than UPA’s grandiose and totally inappropriate National ID Bill. For all its claims Aadhaar can’t even differentiate between citizens and non-citizens. As Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said, Aadhaar cannot and will not be used for citizenship or domicile identification, but only as part of a broad benefits and subsidy delivery system, of which Aadhaar provides the limited biometric identity verification piece.


Why has crores of rupees only given us this limited use? For this, Aadhaar’s limitations need to be understood. It is a database that contains three pieces of information — Name, Age and Address. It is not possible for any government to use this data as a way to better deliver subsidies. This is strange because the idea of directing subsidies is that the government is able to identify those who are eligible and those who aren’t, and, at a fundamental level, only citizens would be eligible for these benefits. 

The Aadhaar can only be effective if used with another database or platform that performs the function of identification and targeting by having details of the person.

That’s why the Narendra Modi government has had to retrofit Aadhaar into the JAM trinity in its effort to better target subsidies, i.e., Aadhaar cannot do targeting or subsidy delivery without the BPL or Jan Dhan Yojana (JDY) databases — the JDY/BPL databases providing the targeting and identification, and the Aadhaar database doing only the identity verification.
So now that we have a way to use Aadhaar, let’s get to the introduced Bill.

The inserted Chapter 3 is an effort to make this a money Bill. I have no problem with Aadhaar being a money Bill, subject to changes in Clause 7, where words like “may” have to be replaced with “only” if it’s to be treated as a money Bill. “May” implies that it is not just for benefits and subsidies, as implied by it being a money Bill, but can be used in other ways. If the government wants this to be a money Bill, it will have to shut the loopholes.


It’s obvious that this Bill is a cut-and-paste job on the original UPA Bill. But the problem with cut-and-paste legislation is that contradictions will surface in places in the Bill. Take Clause 4(3), which says Aadhaar can be used as identity for any purpose. 

That contradicts Clause 7 and narrative around the Bill that Aadhaar will be used only for delivering benefits and subsidies — which is a justification to bypass Rajya Sabha as a money Bill.

The ‘Offences and Penalties’ in Chapter 7 are almost the same as the UPA Bill without addressing the institutional obligations to the enrolee in matters of data security, integrity and privacy. It can’t be the government’s case that enrolees start suing individual officers of Aadhaar. 

The Bill doesn’t address the issue of Citizens vs Residents. It would seem a contradiction if Aadhaar is to be used to deliver subsidies and benefits (which are only rights of citizens), but can’t figure out who a citizen is or not. 

Issues like privacy and security are significant even when it comes to underprivileged and those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. I can see this Bill passing only if there are significant amendments to address these fundamental issues, some of which, like privacy, are being agitated in the Supreme Court by various petitioners, including me.

The Bill is also weak on the definition of the subsidy delivery architecture. Since Aadhaar cannot deliver anything on its own, the need for more specific targeting databases, like BPL and JDY means that in future, these independent pieces of data will have to merge into one composite social sector registry or database. Whether these independent databases also need legal regulation on issues of privacy and security through this law, is another question.


This move by the Centre to debate and discuss Aadhaar, and the future of subsidy and benefits delivery, is much needed. Many had urged for a debate and discourse on Aadhaar for several years, and the response has been it’s the executive’s right.

This government is determined to reform public subsidy spending and make it more effective by directing more accurately. In its haste to do this, it should not pass flawed legislation. 

Recent developments on the IT Act and Section 66A are proof that flawed legislation causes more problems than it solves. 

With this legislation, Aadhaar must now move from the world of spin and hype to being a real, legally backed identity verification platform working as part of the subsidy delivery JAM platform while addressing enrolees/citizen issues of privacy, security and data integrity.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar is a technology entrepreneur and Rajya Sabha MP
The views expressed are personal.