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.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

9481 - Aadhaar is good, but I probably trust Apple more with privacy - First Post


By Nash David /  11 Mar 2016 , 17:11
Update: The Lok Sabha has passed the Aadhaar bill on 11 March.

The headline wasn’t intended. It happened over the course of writing the piece. I must also disclose that as of writing this piece, I do not own an Apple product. I am, however, registered with the UIDAI for Aadhaar – the desi avatar of social security. Only it isn’t.

A few years ago when I excitedly and hopefully registered for Aadhaar, I went through a process of standing in a queue, performing my duty as a citizen and sharing all possible information needed. That included where I lived, what I did, details of my bank accounts, telephone bills, electricity bills, LPG subscription and photographs. At the next stage, I interfaced with a piece of technology. Fingerprint scans and iris scans were impressive. I’d only witnessed these at embassies and immigration checks before. That this was happening in India, and was done by the government, made me hopeful that we were finally moving ahead.

Essentially, the Aadhaar database has all my vital information.
It’s information that’s otherwise not readily shared with anyone. Now when it comes to my fingerprint, my smartphone does have it stored. But on its chipset, rather than memory that’s otherwise accessible to rogue apps. In addition, my iris scan has been tied in to the Aadhaar as well. That’s deeper than personal. As someone with a BlackBerry past, the presence of rogue apps on the Play Store does get me concerned as well. Apple and its iOS on the other hand, gives me some sense of assurance that each app meets certain specific requirements and given the closed nature of the platform, things are in place.

What about trust?
When it comes to Aadhaar, there are several aspects that makes me wonder. My information is out there on a database somewhere. As per information publicly available, it’s in Bengaluru. In the run up to the Net Neutrality debate, millions of online users wrote to TRAI. The result was that someone decided to put out about a million email addresses out in the open for the world to see. In an ideal world, it’s supposed to be harmless. But in the real world of rising crime rates, you’re the ideal victim. What if someone puts out a file on a website for the world to see. Sounds ridiculous, you think?  Emailing TRAI was voluntary as well. And so is enrolling for Aadhaar.

There are a couple of things that don’t add up when it comes to Aadhaar. Why is it voluntary, if it is supposed to be a document that aims to serve the purpose of identity. A colleague, I learned, had an interesting experience, wherein her landlord insisted that she present her Aadhaar instead of a PAN card, or passport as a proof of identity.

The right to privacy
Each one of us has a right to privacy. And when companies such as Apple take a stand to defend that right, it does leave us impressed. And securing privacy is a great responsibility which the powers that be ought to fulfil. Whether Apple is doing enough is something that we will see over a period of time. For now, there’s definitely a lot that’s been done. Besides, the collective support of technology giants such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook and several others for Apple on the issue of encryption only makes us feel positive about the topic as a whole.

The record with Aadhaar, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite so positive. Since the change of guard at the Centre, the ruling by the Supreme Court indicated that Aadhaar couldn’t be mandatory. With that, the hope of having a fail-proof means of plugging holes seemed far fetched. Yet, it seems that there has been a significant number of registrations already with Aadhaar so far. According to the official Aadhaar portal (at the time of writing), the total number of cards issued so far is 98,42,50,470. That’s approaching a billion users.

And up until now, authorities have managed to lose data of three lakh people in Maharashtra. Similarly, computer systems with Aadhaar data have been stolen in the past

Reports such as these definitely shake up the confidence around security and privacy, but hopefully these would streamline in the future. Till then, I’d continue to be concerned.