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, April 5, 2016

9742 - A billion Indians under Aadhaar: Here's what should worry us - Business Standard


While Aadhaar promises to be a boon for delivery of government support, the concerns around privacy and data protection leave much to be desired
Sahil Makkar  |  New Delhi 

April 5, 2016 Last Updated at 11:52 IST


The government is celebrating the completion of one billion Aadhaar enrollments. And while they grudgingly accept that the Congress initiated this path breaking identity programme, the BJP has been quick to take credit for implementing it rightly since they came to power in 2014.  

As a reporter, covering this issue since its inception in 2009, I feel both pride and concern. Pride because Aadhaar has the potential of curbing perennial corruption if implemented in the right spirit and concern because I see how the technology framework has been built overriding the concerns of security and intelligence agencies as well as privacy advocates. These concerns are genuine and cannot be brushed aside.

A brief history of how we reached the one billion mark

In 2009, the UIDAI was created through a cabinet decision and it was asked to collect biometric details of 200 million Indian residents. Later its mandate was increased to 600 million. At the same time, the National Population Register (NPR), a wing under the Ministry of Home Affairs, was tasked to collect the biometrics of the rest of the residents and give it to UIDAI for de-duplication. 

The NPR was supposed to use the de-duplicated data for creation of a citizenship register and issue a citizenship card according to the 2003 Citizenship Act.

The problem begins here 

Both the NPR and the UIDAI started collected biometrics through their respective vendors (the NPR through PSUs and UIDAI mainly through private agencies) and hence their processes were poles apart from each other. 

The NPR and the UIDAI accused each other of faulty data collection processes.

As a journalist having covered both the UIDAI and the NPR, it was evident that the UIDAI was in a hurry to complete the enrollment targets and had glossed over the security issues raised by the NPR. It was also observed that some private enrollment agencies were feeding wrong data to the system to make a quick buck. There were reports of Aadhaar being allotted to Lord Hanuman and Coriander leaves.

Moreover, it was also observed that it would be difficult to identify and prosecute those officers who fed the wrong information in the UIDAI system. On the contrary, the NPR system entailed the mechanism whereby the government officers could be held liable for letting wrong people get into the system. Though the NPR system was not foolproof either, it was still better than its counterpart.

Now through these two agencies, we have collected data for nearly one billion residents but no one can say for sure what percentage of these one billion residents are illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, given the fact that they look similar to Indians and speak our languages. State subsidies are meant for Indian citizens, so despite having one billion enrollments and spending thousands of crores, the entire exercise seems futile.

The criticism that could be valid is misuse of biometric data by government agencies. Imagine a situation where you have gone to a rally to mark your protest against some social evils or government policies. You are among a large crowd of anonymous protesters. 

You are anonymous in the crowd, except some high-resolution cameras could capture your movements. This capture by the camera per se is still not worrisome as the camera doesn’t know your name and address to be given to authorities. But what if this camera is capturing biometrics from a distance? Can these biometrics be matched with the database by the security establishment in real time? If yes, You are busted!

You could dismiss this as a fantasy but the German Defence Minister won’t. A hacker used hi-tech cameras to capture her biometrics data and showed how vulnerable the biometric based technologies are.

The idea is not to scare residents but to point out that such a thing cannot be discounted in the near future. Will a government that does not tolerate dissent not end up using such a system? Does the law provide enough safeguards against such misuse?
What could resolve this predicament are strong privacy and data protection laws on lines with the prevailing laws in the European Union.

Here is what Aadhaar could mean in the future: 

1) The government would have the biometric details of every resident. It would be able to identify and deliver subsidies. 

2) It could potentially profile protesters or agitators in the future that would increase their chances of being targeted.

3) It could mean more business for telecom companies whose systems will be used for SMS based authentication processes.

4) It could mean more business opportunities for companies providing biometric devices.  

5) Potential savings of thousands of crores through plugging of leakages and weeding out of ghost beneficiaries.