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.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

9774 - Aadhaar project: Last chance for a welfare state - Indian Epress



That’s what the Aadhaar Act is. It was rightly categorised as a money bill and is wrongly expected to double up as a privacy statute

Written by Arghya Sengupta | Updated: April 8, 2016 9:16 am - 
 See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/aadhaar-project-uidai-last-chance-for-a-welfare-state/#sthash.n6ehUeMD.dpuf

With the billionth Aadhaar number being issued, the Aadhaar project is well on its way to becoming the centrepiece for governance in India irrespective of which government is in power. To that extent, critical engagement with the Aadhaar act is an essential exercise in a free and democratic polity. But much of this engagement, including on these pages, leads one to believe that the Aadhaar act puts an official imprimatur on a mass surveillance tool violating fundamental rights, hammered through Parliament by a brute majority. The reality, though equally momentous, is nonetheless distinct — Aadhaar is the last chance for an effective welfare state to take root in India. Subversion of this goal for nefarious ends is not only deleterious for citizens but for the state itself.

This realisation is hard-wired in the Aadhaar act and reflected in its rightful categorisation as a money bill. At its core, the Aadhaar act creates a mechanism for unique identification of individuals in order to deliver subsidies, services and benefits from the Consolidated Fund of India alone. The procedures to be followed in such identification, the establishment of the UIDAI to carry out these statutory functions, its funding, its own processes pertaining to data protection and ensuring their compliance through appropriate offences are all incidental and necessary to achieve the sole statutory purpose.

The fact that the act gives the state vast powers and has a potential impact on rights is no reason not to characterise it as a money bill. The archetypal money bills — taxation acts — not only affect fundamental freedoms of individuals, to do business, to eat out, or even more fundamentally to live as free citizens in India itself, but also form the basis for the modern state to perform its functions. Seen in this light, the money bill issue is a red herring. However its characterisation has had one entirely positive outcome. The spirited debate on the Aadhaar act in the Rajya Sabha was the first time in a long time that the Upper House performed its envisaged function of checking and balancing government through sober legislative debate. 

Statistics indicate that disruptions in the Rajya Sabha in the last two years have been significantly higher than in the Lok Sabha. For a House of Elders established by the founding fathers to “hold dignified debates” this is simply unacceptable. That a money bill was required to put the Rajya Sabha back on track is a timely reminder that if disruptions are going to be the norm, the Constitution isn’t short on remedies.

Unlike the money bill issue, a more genuine concern is around privacy of citizens and how the Aadhaar architecture affects it. First, it is imperative to recognise that the Aadhaar act is not and cannot be expected to double up as a privacy statute for India. How government databases use Aadhaar and their security arrangements must be considered as a distinct question, and one that is not within the remit of the Aadhaar act to answer.

The relevant privacy question is how far the act goes in ensuring the protection of information that the UIDAI possesses in order to ensure effective service delivery. That data, contrary to much of what detractors posit, is limited by the act to basic demographic and biometric information. The Aadhaar database is no panopticon with the capacity to profile individuals by storing information like passport details, PAN card information, etc. This is an intentional design choice.

Further, among the types of data the UIDAI possesses, the act is categorical in its assertion that core biometric information shall not be shared for any purpose, including for national security. For demographic data that is shareable, it has strong safeguards. It can only be used for the purposes that the individual consents to and only with such persons as is indicated beforehand; the individual has the right to access his information, update and correct it. All of these will require new regulations, revised enrolment forms and fresh authentication protocols. These hardly seem to be manifestations of a government that simply wants to steamroller privacy concerns.
Some of the most strident criticism of the act has unfortunately glossed over these important safeguards. They are largely symptomatic of an accountability discourse in India that performs a vital public function, but has demands incommensurate to the authority that the power-wielder possesses. The state, through Aadhaar’s federated and minimalist database, simply does not have the ability to play Big Brother. While, of course, one must remain vigilant and continue to hold the state accountable, that cannot come through fear-mongering at the cost of public reason.

A salutary aspect of such vigilance has been to point out that there is very little accountability for data handling in the Aadhaar act. This is a valid observation and the UIDAI must use its regulatory powers under Section 23 to set up a robust grievance redressal mechanism, including an ombudsman, to adequately bolster its accountability quotient.

Doing so is necessary not just to protect privacy but also to underline the seriousness of the state in delivering services to vast sections of the population that are identity-less and excluded. Aadhaar  represents a prototype of a new welfare state — smarter, responsive and oriented towards improving material lives while being respectful of rights. Its failure, either owing to civil society activism or wanton future subversion for surveillance purposes, might be the final straw for a state machinery on the brink of irredeemable discredit.

The writer is research director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, a New Delhi-based think tank that assisted the government of India in drafting the Aadhaar Act. Views are personal

- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/aadhaar-project-uidai-last-chance-for-a-welfare-state/#sthash.n6ehUeMD.dpuf