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.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

9613 - The cyberthreat is very real - The Hindu

March 19, 2016



M.K.Narayanan

The debate in Parliament on the Aadhaar Bill, 2016, is quite revealing, says M.K. Narayanan.

Despite having a national cybersecurity policy, risks to our critical infrastructure remain. The Aadhaar concerns are valid, but India needs both offensive cyber operations and strengthened cybersecurity to deal with new onslaughts.
The debate in Parliament on the Aadhaar Bill, 2016, is quite revealing. Concerns expressed that the Bill contained certain provisions [Section 29(iv) and Section 33] that provide avenues for ‘surveillance’ of citizens require a discussion to remove any lingering suspicion about the government’s intentions.
The parliamentary debate reminds us of concerns expressed in the United States following whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) retention of American metadata. Mere assurances that the Aadhaar Bill contains provisions to bar sharing of biometric information and that the Unique Identification Number is limited to establishing identity will not suffice. In the U.S., concerns expressed were less about misuse and more about the NSA collecting and having in its possession large amounts of metadata which could be misused. A debate could remove latent suspicions.
The issue of privacy vs. security is a ‘hot’ subject around the world. The controversy in the U.S. surrounding Apple Inc.’s refusal to break the encryption on an iPhone that belonged to a terrorist — following a demand by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — is a variant of this debate, which in this case involves cryptography. While the FBI is insistent that Apple provide ‘backdoors’ that would let the FBI circumvent encryption, the information security community stands firmly behind Apple.
Cyberspace under relentless attack

Cyberspace is today a shorthand for the myriad computing devices that constitute the Internet. The proliferation of autonomous systems, however, posits not merely new advances but also new threats. By 2020, online devices are projected to outnumber human users by a ratio of 6:1. The next impending wave — the Internet of Things — is expected to ring in even more fundamental, technical and societal changes.
Cyberspace was primarily intended as a civilian space. It has, however, become a new domain of warfare. Well before the Stuxnet cyberattack (2010) on an Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz — that was seen as a kind of ‘shot across the bow’ in the opening rounds of the cyber conflict, and demonstrated that the Internet had become a ‘free fire zone’ (and that a cyberattack could be almost as lethal as a nuclear one) — there were other instances of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure. In 2007, Estonia was almost brought to its knees through a cyberattack, presumed to be by Russian hackers.
The past few years have seen successful attacks against the best-guarded installations of advanced nations. In the past two years alone, reports have been doing the rounds of cyberattacks on the Pentagon computer network in the U.S., including by the Islamic State, to gain access to the personal data of several hundreds of U.S. military personnel. The past year also witnessed a devastating attack on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. It is evident that no rule of law exists in cyberspace. The domain has already become a dangerous place.
Threats in cyberspace have waxed and waned over the years. Among the more common types of cyberattacks perpetrated by state-sponsored agencies are ‘Distributed Denial of Service’ attacks targeting critical networks. In the 1990s, ‘malware’ and ‘viruses’ were the big threats. ‘Worms’ took over in the early 2000s (Stuxnet was among the best known). A few years later, ‘spyware’ became a big thing (BadBIOS, Bitter Bugs, Heartbleed and Bash were among the most notorious). Today ‘cloud security’ is the issue. By 2020, security teams would need to determine what additional security mechanisms like encryption and authentication will be needed to check penetration and hacking.
Securing cyberspace not easy

Securing cyberspace will, however, be hard. The architecture of the Internet was designed to promote connectivity, not security. Cyber experts warn that nations that are unprepared to face the threat of a cyber 9/11. The more technologically advanced and wired a nation is, the more vulnerable it is to a cyberattack.
Cybersecurity has an interesting parallel to terrorism. Both are asymmetric. Ensuring security of data, information, and communication is considerably harder than hacking into a system. The attacker has an inherent advantage in both conventional terrorism and cyberattacks. In the case of state-sponsored attacks, the challenges are of a much higher magnitude.
Defence against cyberattacks is becoming increasingly difficult. This was highlighted at the recent RSA Conference 2016 in the U.S. — the RSA is the gold standard of cybersecurity. The meet acknowledged that “adversaries” (or hackers) were becoming more creative and more sophisticated. At the same time, the industry faced a real shortage of cybersecurity talent. RSA president Amit Yoran said there are no “silver bullets” in cybersecurity. Other experts observed that the answer lay in ‘bleeding edge technology’ and ‘big data analytics’, a customised approach to specific challenges and a radically new system and data protection architecture that could turn asymmetry on its head.
The aphorism that one needs to be ahead of the curve is relevant to the technology world as a whole. Cybersecurity is somewhat unique, and rests on the fundamental pillars of mathematics and computer science. The need is to accelerate the pace at which cybersecurity specialists are produced, to meet the growing threat — one estimate puts the approaching cybersecurity talent shortage at “almost two million people worldwide”.
Fortifying our cybersecurity

The cyberthreat to India must not be minimised. The number of attacks on security, military and economic targets is going up. India remains vulnerable to digital intrusions such as cyberespionage, cybercrime, digital disruption and Distributed Denial of Service.

Given the many existing cyberwarfare scenarios, not excluding a coordinated cyberattack that could sabotage multiple infrastructure assets, erecting proper defences is vital. 

Anonymity and low cost have meant that even small disaffected groups — apart from hostile states and official agencies — could resort to cyber techniques. It is even possible to conjecture that terrorists could explode improvised explosive devices (IEDs) using a remote connection in cyberspace.

Advances in software are beginning to allow users to browse the Internet anonymously, bouncing actions through ‘encrypted relays’. This prevents eavesdropping, determining what sites a particular user is visiting or who the users of a particular site actually are. This could pose security problems.

The spectre of growing cyberthreat demands changes in the attitude of users of systems, a proactive approach to investment in hardening systems, better training in computer security practices, and careful engineering of things to be connected to networks. Almost certainly it would mean that certain critical computers and controls are unhooked from the network, a practice known as ‘air gapping’. Policy formulation will need to be supported by a legal framework, leading to greater cyber resilience and crisis responsiveness.

Despite having a National Cyber Security Policy (2013), risks to our critical infrastructure remain. The Policy Framework details a series of policy, legal, technical and administrative steps, with a clear delineation of functional responsibilities among the stakeholders. In spite of instituting a National Cyber Security Coordinator (2014), internecine rivalries between the National Technical Research Organisation (the nodal agency for cybersecurity) and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology impede cooperation. Unwillingness on the part of defence and intelligence agencies to integrate their own cyber defence and cybersecurity strategies with the national strategy acts as a roadblock.

The earlier the weaknesses in our cybersecurity defences are rectified, the better prepared would we be to face ongoing challenges. China has already announced plans for comprehensive digital surveillance. China’s emphasis on ‘cloud computing techniques’, and the involvement of its Ministry of State Security in this endeavour, suggests that it is preparing for all-out offensive cyber operations. India would be a prime target.

Nations are generally chary about acknowledging their role in offensive cyber operations. The Central Intelligence Agency and the NSA of the U.S. do admit to having engaged in full spectrum offensive cyber operations. The U.S. even acknowledges having brought down ‘jihadi sites’.

The battle between attackers and the attacked is becoming still more asymmetric. Faced with potentially new cyber onslaughts, the danger to India’s economic and national security is going up in geometrical progression. To be forearmed, with both offensive cyber operations and strengthened cybersecurity, is essential.

(M.K. Narayanan is a former National Security Adviser and former Governor of West Bengal.)