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 21, 2016

9595 - No Aadhaar for invading privacy: UID will be must for all even though govt wants you to believe it's not - First Post


Mar 17, 2016 19:48 IST

By Gyanant Singh
Aadhaar is not mandatory but we hardly have a choice with government subsidies, benefits and services being made subject to possession of the biometric identity card.

The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 — after it receives assent from the President — will empower the government to invade our privacy by virtually taking away from us the freedom to decide whether to share or not to share our personal biometric information.

Ironically, the proposed law makes Aadhaar voluntary but at the same time takes away the choice by making the unique identification number mandatory not just for availing subsidies but even for government facilities and services which no resident of the country can avoid.

Instead of stating in clear terms that every resident shall obtain an Aadhaar number, Section 3 gives a right to residents to obtain one. Section 3(1) states: "Every resident shall be entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number by submitting his demographic information and biometric information by undergoing the process of enrolment".
Section 7, however, shows that the right (referred to as entitlement in section 3) is basically a duty as residents are left with no choice but to opt for Aadhaar by allowing the government to collect, preserve and use biometric data. Section 7 reads: "The Central Government or, as the case may be, the State Government may, for the purpose of establishing identity of an individual as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service for which the expenditure is incurred from, or the receipt therefrom forms part of, the Consolidated Fund of India, require that such individual undergo authentication, or furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or in the case of an individual to whom no Aadhaar number has been assigned, such individual makes an application for enrolment".

Thus, government subsidy, benefit or service is subject to a resident: (1) undergoing authentication (a process which as per section 2(c) presupposes existence of Aadhaar); or (2) furnishing proof of possession of Aadhaar; or (3) making an application for Aadhaar if the beneficiary does not have one.
Though there is a Proviso to section 7 which talks of an offer for "alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service", it is only for residents to whom "an Aadhaar number is not assigned". The language makes clear that a resident, however, will not have a right not to opt for Aadhaar and seek the benefit of alternate means of identification. Doubt, if any, is removed with the marginal note of section 7 which reads: "Proof of Aadhaar number necessary for receipt of certain subsidies, benefits and services, etc.".
Can one opt out of the Aadhaar scheme under such circumstances? The answer, as per my understanding of the law, is emphatic NO.
Incidentally, the Supreme Court had earlier directed the government not to deny subsidies merely because someone did not possess or had not applied for Aadhaar. But that was when Aadhaar -- introduced through a resolution by the executive in 2009 -- did not have a statutory backing. The right to privacy is taken to be a fundamental right under Article 21 and the Constitution provides that the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 (in which privacy has been read into through judicial pronouncements) can only be curtailed by law and not by executive actions.
Now that Aadhaar has a statutory back, the matter will have to be looked into afresh. The Supreme Court in the Maneka Gandhi case (1978 SC 597) held that a law curtailing rights under Article 21 has to be fair, just and reasonable.
True, the right to privacy is not absolute but it needs to be debated if it is fair and reasonable to invade upon a sacrosanct right like privacy on grounds of financial exigency to curb pilferage of public funds. The government probably would have had a stronger case if it had harped on national security as the main basis for curbing the right rather than introducing the law as a Money Bill. The introduction to the Bill shows that the object is "to provide for, as a good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services" to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals and "for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto".

The other aspects which needs to be debated pertain to section 33 dealing with use of biometric data for purposes other than preventing pilferage of funds and the concern over foolproof mechanism to safeguard against theft, leak or misuse of biometric information. There needs to be a strict scrutiny on this count as the damage likely to be irreversible with leak of biometric information which cannot be changed like passwords.

The involvement of private players in collection and preservation of such information and the sentencing/punishment not commensurate with the price such information can fetch only expound the fears of pilferage of valuable biometric and demographic data. While collection of data had already been outsourced to private agencies who have done most of the work, sections 10 and 23 empower the Unique Identification Authority of India to use the services of agencies (could be private) for collecting, storing, securing or processing of information or delivery of Aadhaar numbers to individuals or performing authentication. To add to all this, section 47 bars courts from taking cognizance of any offence unless a complaint made by the Authority or any officer or person authorised by it.

On the benefits being listed by the votaries of the Aadhaar scheme, one cannot ignore that an all-purpose Identity Card covering all residents of India would be as useful and is in fact necessary given the fact that voter ID card, Driving licences etc do not cover those below 18 and a majority of Indians do not need passport. The government cannot cover up its failure to prevent duplication and fake identity cards by invading into the coveted right to privacy. The government ought to have considered seriously the issue of privacy rather than merely giving statutory backing to the 2009 Aadhaar scheme which had a flawed beginning.

To me, an Aadhaar minus biometric information should strike a balance between the need to streamline government subsidies and services on the one hand and the right to privacy on the other.