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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Friday, March 11, 2016

9472 - The Aadhaar Bill strikes the right balance - Live Mint

Last Modified: Thu, Mar 10 2016. 09 52 AM IST


It prevents state overreach while formalizing an essential governance tool


Since its inception as the Unique Identification Authority of India in 2009, the Aadhaar project has grappled with questions of privacy and the scope of its use. These are important issues; they have informed the debate in meaningful ways. But the Aadhaar Bill, 2016, tabled in the Lok Sabha last Thursday, answers them comprehensively.

The Bill must be assessed on three criteria: 
What is the purpose of the collected data? 
What privacy safeguards does it incorporate? 
Is the individual’s informed consent secured?

Clauses 4(3) and 7 answer the first question adequately. They set the Aadhaar number up to be used as proof of identity for receipt of any “subsidy, benefit or service” from the Consolidated Fund of India. The latter also makes it the government’s responsibility to provide alternative means of identification if an individual hasn’t been provided an Aadhaar number.

In other words, the Bill’s positioning of Aadhaar is consistent with its central purpose as originally envisaged—a governance aid to improve subsidy targeting and reduce leakage and corruption. Contrary to fears voiced by many critics that the programme could be used as a vehicle for control by an overbearing state, it has the potential to achieve precisely the opposite. The current model of social sector spending, paternalistic as it is, ensures multiple points of contact between the state and the individual—a recipe for baking patronage into the system. With patronage, naturally, comes retail corruption—a tax paid upon interaction with the state that is, perhaps, the most insidious form of control.

Reducing government footprint and making state-individual interaction frictionless via a switch to direct benefit transfers (DBT) is the only practical method to shift away from the patronage model. And the Aadhaar project is an integral component of the Narendra Modi administration’s JAM trinity—Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile connectivity—needed for making that switch. Savings of roughly 30% in cooking gas subsidy over the past year due to a shift to DBT show just how quickly the benefits can become apparent.

All of this, of course, would be undercut by inadequate provisions for the security and privacy of the data collected under the umbrella of the Aadhaar programme. That is not the case here. The protections written into the Bill are some of the strongest in any legislation on the statute books with regard to privacy. Clauses 28(5), 29(1) and 29(2) unambiguously cordon off identity information from any usage except according to the provisions of the Bill; core biometric data is particularly heavily guarded.

Clause 33 does allow for a national security exception. But it would be unrealistic to cavil at this; no state can be expected to put data it has collected beyond its own reach in such an extreme. There are enough checks and balances to ensure that it cannot be used frivolously—requiring a district judge or a joint secretary to pass an order that must be reviewed by an oversight committee. And with regard to informed consent, the Bill explicitly provides for this at every stage, from enrolment—Clause 3(2)—to the Aadhaar number’s use for identity authentication as per Clause 29(3).

Aadhaar’s critics have pointed to operational flaws that have cropped up thus far, such as 19.2 million Aadhaar numbers being issued in Delhi against a population of 17.7 million. They are correct. A programme of this size—unprecedented globally—is bound to have teething problems. But to argue for dismantling—or putting on hold indefinitely in an endless quest for perfection—instead of improving an administrative structure because of initial problems is absurd. No aspect of the state’s machinery would survive such a test.

And as for arguments that allowing the government to hold any such information is midwifing a police state—not rare, unfortunately—this is a perspective from which the state is solely Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. There is no rational argument to counter this, for it is not in itself rational.
By all means, the Aadhaar programme must be held to the highest standards, from enrolment to safeguarding the Central Identities Data Repository against cyber threats, a not inconsiderable risk. But any governance measure requires a trade-off with privacy; it is a question of degree, cost-benefit ratio and ring-fencing core rights. The Bill manages to strike the correct balance.

Does the Aadhaar Bill safeguard the individual’s rights adequately? Tell us at views@livemint.com