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 22, 2016

9609 - NDA Aadhaar is a far cry from what UPA proposed -


Rajeev Chandrasekhar   New Delhi     Last Updated: March 19, 2016  | 13:19 IST


The NDA government, over the last two years, has launched an unprecedented and determined effort to reform public subsidy spending, and this new Aadhaar is part of their execution strategy for this. In addition, the milestone of delivering cash subsidies to bank accounts of the needy with over Rs 36,000 crores deposited in 22 crore accounts is testimony to the focus on execution and getting things done by this government.

The recent opposition to Aadhaar by many in the present Opposition is amusing and perplexing. Neither the Left nor the Congress raised a murmur when Aadhaar was being rolled out from 2010 violating everything that they are complaining about - privacy, lack of debate, lack of legislation etc. While there were a few like me who kept raising this issue, I did not find any voices from that side.

Governance
I am a big supporter and advocate of embedding technology into governance, and so, have always supported the creation of the national ID platform, which the UPA chose to call Aadhaar. 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.

Aadhaar is simply a biometric database that contains only three pieces of information of the person - name, age and address along with his/her biometrics. The country must know that this UPA-initiated database, ostensibly for the purpose of identification, doesn't have even the basic citizenship information. Crores were spent compiling a database that will not even identify a person as a citizen - thus allowing illegal migrants and non-citizens to avail of public money and subsidies, arguably in violation of The Citizenship Act, 1955.
The NDA Aadhaar is a far cry from what the UPA was proposing as Aadhaar. It is no longer a national identification platform; rather, it is limited to only delivering subsidies and services. This is a good response to a fundamental weakness of Aadhaar that this government inherited.

The whole database is a poorly verified database that needs slow and steady cleaning up. The process of using small enrolment agencies has created countless fake entries in this database. Getting an Aadhaar enrolment in a fake name had become as simple as getting a fake BPL card, and so attempts to make it a National Identification platform would have been dangerous.

Under the UPA, the government intended to use it as Identity proof. Given the ease with which Aadhaar cards are available, there would have been nothing to prevent David Headley from getting it - and by using the same getting upstream identity proofs like Indian passports, Voter IDs or Tax PAN Cards etc.
The UPA government did not acknowledge the danger like the NDA government has. Aadhaar could be a trapdoor for infiltration into formal identity processes like Passports, Voter IDs, and could become an Identity Laundering Platform - but for the NDA government confirming that it will be restricted to subsidy delivery.

Privacy
In sharp contrast to UPA's contention that there was no need for privacy rights for enrolees, the NDA has acknowledged that privacy is a fundamental right, and substantively expanded the privacy and protection of information. NDA's approach to privacy is good and well-constructed.

There is protection under Section 43 A of the IT Act, and that is good. But, is that adequate given the dangers of a centralized repository? The cyber tribunals under the IT Act are hardly active, and capacity doesn't exist for these kind of disputes.
Therefore, as I have repeatedly advocated in the past, the government now needs to urgently formulate a robust overarching privacy legislation. The right to privacy has not been addressed by previous governments, and the NDA has done well to acknowledge this gap.

This Bill will evolve as the use of directed subsidy increases. Clause 33 deals with data interception/inspection rights and conditions. I have urged that the oversight committee be expanded to include elements of legal oversight and have the Attorney General and a Retired Judge - to ensure the fair, just and reasonable test.

Sanction
Clauses 47 and 50 are ones that will need to go when this law is revisited next - Why is there a need for sanction for prosecution by the authority in the event of a complaint or breach? The principle of accountability and citizen rights is a theme that has been played out by the government in other bills like the Real Estate Bill. Why not here? And how can Clause 50 seek to give powers to government to supersede the authority, when Parliament enacted law is giving the powers to the authority?
Apart from this long delayed scrutiny and debate about Aadhaar, the other strange thing is the total lack of accountability of any entity on the verification of the data. The bill must cast the obligation of this aspect of data integrity. The bill currently completely leaves the authority without any obligations to the enrolee on the critical issues of data security, integrity and privacy. Since Aadhaar in itself is useless for any subsidy delivery and has to work with other databases, Government must plan to also bring those databases like JDY in the ambit of privacy clause of this law, and also possibly to bring to Parliament an overarching privacy legislation.
In the future, a repaired and cleaned up Aadhaar has to be integrated to work with other databases like JDY, LPG, Mobile to direct public spending more effectively and with less leakage and corruption - a transformation indeed!