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

9452 - Aadhaar: still too many problems - Live Mint


While one wishes to welcome govt’s attempt to bring Aadhaar within a legislative framework, the fact is there are too many problems that still remain unaddressed for one to be optimistic

Pranesh Prakash

Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

The Aadhaar Bill has been introduced as a money bill, even though it doesn’t qualify as such under Article 110 of the Constitution. If the Speaker agrees to this, it will render the Rajya Sabha toothless in this matter, and will weaken our democracy. The government should reintroduce it as an ordinary legislative bill, which is what it is.

While the government has in the past argued before the Supreme Court that Aadhaar is voluntary, Section 7 of the bill allows the government to mandate an Aadhaar number (or application for an Aadhaar number) as a prerequisite for obtaining some subsidies, benefits, services, etc. This undermines its arguments before the Supreme Court, which led the court to pass orders holding that Aadhaar should not be made mandatory. This move to make it mandatory will now need the government to argue that rather than contravene the apex court order, it has instead removed the rationale for it.

Interestingly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government seems to have done a U-turn on the issue of the unique identification number not being proof of citizenship or domicile. The previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government never meant the Aadhaar number to be proof of citizenship or domicile. This was attacked by the Yashwant Sinha-chaired standing committee on finance, which feared that illegal immigrants would get Aadhaar numbers. Now, the BJP and the NDA seem to be in agreement with the original UPA vision of Aadhaar.

Importantly, there is very strong language when it comes to the issue of privacy and confidentiality of the information that is held by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Section 29 (1), for instance, says that no biometric information will be shared for any reason whatsoever, or used for any purpose other than Aadhaar number generation and authentication. However, that provision is undermined wholly by Section 33, which says that “in the interest of national security”, the biometric info may be accessed if authorized by a joint secretary. This will only fan the fears of those who have argued that the real rationale for Aadhaar was not, in fact, delivery of services, but to create a national database of biometric data available to government snoops.
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Further, there are no remedies available for governmental abuse of this provision.

Lastly, in terms of privacy, the concern of those people who have been opposing Aadhaar is not just that the biometric and other identity information may be leaked to private parties, but also that having a unique Aadhaar number helps private parties to combine and use other databases that are linked with Aadhaar numbers in a manner that is not within the subject’s control. This is not at all addressed in this bill, and we need a robust data protection law in order to do that.

There are some other crucial details that the law doesn’t address: Is user consent, to be taken by third parties that use the UID database for authentication, needed for each instance of authentication, or would a general consent hold forever? How can consent be revoked?

There were many other objections that were raised against the Aadhaar scheme that have not been addressed by the government. For instance, in a recent article in the Economic and Political Weekly, Hans Varghese Mathews points out that going by the test data UIDAI made available in 2012, for a population of 1.3 billion people, the incidence of false positives—the probability of the identities of two people matching—is 1/112.

This is far too high a ratio to be acceptable.

Actual data from the field in Andhra Pradesh—of people who were unable to claim rations under the public distribution system (PDS)—paints a worse picture. A survey commissioned by the Andhra Pradesh government said 48% of respondents pointed to Aadhaar-related failures as the cause of their inability to claim rations.

So, even if the Aadhaar numbers were no longer issued to Lord Hanuman (Rajasthan), to dogs (e.g., Tommy Singh, a mutt in Madhya Pradesh), and with photos of a tree (New Delhi), it might not prove to be usable in a country of India’s size, given the capabilities of the fingerprint machines. As my colleague Sunil Abraham notes, the law cannot fix technological flaws.
So, while one wishes one could welcome the government’s attempt to bring Aadhaar within a legislative framework, the fact is there are too many problems that still remain unaddressed for one to be optimistic.

Pranesh Prakash is policy director at the Centre for Internet and Society, a think tank.