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

9618 - In India, Biometric Data Storage Sparks Demands for Privacy Laws - VOA News



FILE - A woman places her finger on a biometric card reader before buying her quota of subsidized rice from a fair price shop under the Public Distribution System in Rayagada, in the Indian eastern state of Orissa, March 20, 2012.

Anjana Pasricha
March 18, 2016 11:34 AM
NEW DELHI—

In India, calls for strict privacy laws are growing after this week's passage of a measure that allows federal agencies access to biometric data of the nation's citizens, the world's largest such repository.

The government says the use of biometrics will help cut rampant graft in the distribution of subsidies, but activists and opposition lawmakers warn it could usher in an era of increased state surveillance.

Raghubir Gaur, who works as an electrician in the capital, New Delhi, says he has never collected subsidized rations such as wheat and rice, because “somebody else has been taking the rations I should have gotten.” Now, with a national proof of identity, or "Aadhaar" card in his hands, Gaur says he is confident he will be able to access his designated subsidies.
The Aadhaar card is being used to give welfare benefits to the poor, who often cannot provide any proof identity, allowing corrupt officials to siphon entitlements.

The government says it has saved nearly $2 billion by preventing misuse of the subsidies in the last fiscal year alone.

Critics fear ‘police state’
Civil activists and research groups, however, have dubbed the Aadhaar program “surveillance technology” that constitutes a serious breach of privacy. They point to identity-verification systems in other countries, where cards or identification numbers are used for verification without creating a gigantic central database that documents every last transaction.
Indeed, the Aadhaar database also stores fingerprints and iris scans of every account holder, labeling each with a 12-digit identification number. 

Raghubir Gaur (L) and his wife Kusum are confident their "Aadhaar" cards with their biometric data will enable them to access entitlements such as subsidized food rations. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Concerns that this could lead to a massive invasion of privacy have been heightened because the new law allows the data to be used “in the interest of national security.”

“From verifying yourself to the ticket conductor on a train to someone who is delivering something at your house, all the way to opening a new bank account, all these transactions get logged against the centralized data base," says Pranesh Prakash of the Center for Internet and Society in Bangalore. "So this invades your life completely and thoroughly.”

Some lawyers and privacy advocates say this has made it even more important to support a strong privacy law to ensure the huge government database isn't misused.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has defended the biometrics legislation, saying the data will be accessed only in rare cases that require authorization by a senior official.

“You mark my words, you are midwifing a police state,” said lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi, just one parliamentarian opposed passage of the legislation and found no comfort in Jaitley's assurances.

Prior to the intruduction of biometric cards, millions of poor people across India did not have any proof of identity, making it difficult for them to take advantage of government welfare programs. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Fraud concerns
Despite objections, the bill was passed by legislators who argued that such a move is critical to ensuring subsidies reach intended beneficiaries in a country where millions are poor and illiterate.

Attempts to draft a right to privacy bill to protect individuals against misuse of data by government or private agencies date back to 2010, but have made little headway. The latest push started in 2014.

Citing a cyberattack targeting the U.S. government, in which a hacker gained access to the information of millions of people, research groups have also flagged security concerns around India’s ambitious Aadhaar program.

“If this database gets leaked, the entire identification system collapses because people will be able to authenticate themselves as anyone else. So identity fraud is a great concern,” said Prakash of the Center for Internet and Society.
Nearly one billion biometric identity cards have been issued in India in the last six years.