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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Sunday, March 27, 2016

9666 - Privacy after Aadhaar - Indian Express


If this bill with far-reaching implications for rights, accountability and the powers of the state is a money bill, then practically any legislation can be converted into a money bill.

Written by Pratap Bhanu Mehta | Updated: March 26, 2016 2:25 pm

Aadhaar is a potentially useful instrument for delivering benefits and reducing fraud. But even its staunchest defenders should worry about the crude instrumentalism that has surrounded the passage of the Aadhaar bill. This instrumentalism has run roughshod over two values: Constitutional propriety and privacy. There should be great disquiet at the fact that the bill was treated as a money bill. This was a subversion of the spirit of Article 110, the provision that deals with money bills. If this bill with far-reaching implications for rights, accountability and the powers of the state is a money bill, then practically any legislation can be converted into a money bill.

Article 110(3) does say that the speaker is the final authority on what constitutes a money bill. But it was always assumed that the speaker would make this determination in light of the definition of money bills laid down in the article. To arbitrarily declare something a money bill is to subvert the spirit of the Constitution. This bill will set a horrendous precedent for ways of bypassing the Rajya Sabha. The solution to legislative logjam cannot be subversion of the representative scheme bequeathed to us. Many politicians are privately salivating at the prospect of rendering the Rajya Sabha powerless. The Aadhaar bill has been born in this constitutional perfidy.


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The second value is privacy, a key concern. In an age of technology, this is a tricky issue, with complicated risks and tradeoffs. It is precisely for this reason that this should not have been a money bill. A short oped is not a place to settle institutional issues but the responses of the defenders of Aadhaar to the privacy question have not been reassuring. They argue that this bill is an improvement on the UPA’s bill. That is true. But it is hardly reassuring to be told that a hole through which you might fall has gotten marginally smaller if there is a high probability that you can still fall through it. The question is whether the bill demonstrates a good-faith attempt to address as many privacy concerns as it reasonably can.

On that score, the bill is an exercise in bad faith. The first reason is architectural. The national security exceptions in the bill are too broad. It negates all protections the bill seemingly provides. But, more importantly, let us say you do want a national security exception. Should the determination of this be left entirely to the bureaucracy and executive when they themselves will not be under any system of accountability? Admittedly, even our current safeguards are very weak. But as the risks of surveillance grow, we need to strengthen them rather than rely on specious arguments about the past. But as PRS Legislative Research pointed out, the term “national security” is much wider than public emergency or public safety, the traditional grounds on which the state got tapping authority. But the most important point is that there is no effective independent, credible mechanism for holding accountable those who will be making determinations on this exception. Essentially, a small group of bureaucrats can render your privacy irrelevant. Privacy may not be absolute, as the finance minister says, but that is no reason to make bureaucratic power nearly absolute, as this bill does.

Second, the real issue with Aadhaar is not only going to be the privacy of the information with the UIDAI itself. If lots of different agencies link their information to Aadhaar numbers, what will be the protocols governing the sharing of that information? What will be the norms governing data mining? Will we have agency-specific protocols on what information can be shared with whom and under what conditions? Aadhaar will give the ability to link different databases biometrically. As Partha Mukhopadhyay had argued, “To protect privacy, each such database will need additional locks. Linking databases should need consent from multiple key-holders subject to legislative oversight and judicial redress.” This is, in principle, a problem that could be addressed. But it is why Aadhaar required embedding in the context of a comprehensive privacy legislation, not a perfunctory exercise as is carried out in this bill. This bill has no meaningful protection against abuse.
But the broader ideological mystification around privacy should be resisted. This government, like the previous one, is consistently mendacious on the right to privacy, outright denying it on some occasions. Then there is the canard of the “private sector”. Since we freely give in to Google and Facebook, what is wrong in giving in to the state? There are two responses. This argument may actually be a case for regulating big private companies more, rather than lowering protection standards in the state. But, most importantly, it elides an important distinction: The state can use coercive power in a way in which private entities cannot. Private entities are not inconsequential in the exercise of power, but that power operates differently. The reason we worry about the state is that it can coerce you, imprison you, deprive you of your rights. So the standards of accountability have to be correspondingly adjusted.

States have also used a generalised state of insecurity to make surveillance normal. Our fears trump our quest for autonomy. This is a Faustian bargain we have struck with the state. But the political sustainability of this bargain depends upon trust in the state. A good-faith attempt to give as many safeguards as possible should not be seen as coming in the way of the state. It rather enhances its ability to exercise power when it truly matters. But a state that rides roughshod over privacy from the start will not be a state that will elicit trust. What is at stake is not just a right to privacy but the building of a trustworthy state.

Finally, we are in an age where we live in what the Columbia legal theorist, Bernard Harcourt, has in his book, Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age, called the “expository society”. We not only crave exposure but the better satisfaction of our desires requires us to give up privacy. But even the craving for the satisfaction of our desires should not make us immune from worrying about how power is exercised over us. In its crude instrumentalism about constitutional propriety and privacy, the Aadhaar bill is a demonstration of just how easily state power can become arbitrary. Even though the bill has been passed, it is important to keep up the pressure so that we can frame better regulations and seek judicial protection.

The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi, and contributing editor, ‘The Indian Express’


- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/privacy-after-aadhaar-money-bill-rajya-sabha-upa/#sthash.J355Gi2W.dpuf