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.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

9797 - No longer a black box: Why does the revised Aadhaar Bill allow sharing of identity information? - SCROLL.IN

Sunday, April 10th 2016
SCROLL.IN


A seemingly minor amendment to the 2016 bill that could have significant privacy ramifications has not been received adequate debate.


The hacking of a Turkish government database containing close to 50 million personal records of the country’s citizens is yet another reminder of the vulnerability of electronic databases. 

The entire population of Turkey, is estimated at 77.69 million people. This is the second major database to be hacked in recent times, the first being a data breach in the United States government which affected 21 million federal government employees.

These massive data breaches come on the heels of a national debate in India on the various aspects of the Aadhaar project that was recently approved by Parliament when it enacted The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefit & Services) Bill, 2016. One aspect which hasn’t been debated substantially is a seemingly minor amendment to Clause 8(4) of the Bill, which can have significant privacy ramifications. To understand this amendment it is first necessary to narrate the early assurances provided by the Unique Identification Authority of India and its Chairperson, Nandan Nilekani.

Just Yes or No
As originally conceived, the Aadhaar number was to be generated after collection of relevant demographic information (such as address, age, date of birth) and biometric information (such as photographs, fingerprints and iris scans). The number generated were then to be used by either the government or a private entity to authenticate a person carrying out a transaction which required him or her to establish their identity. 

Prior to the introduction of the Aadhaar Bill in Parliament, the UIDAI had maintained that the authentication process would generate only a "yes" or a "no" in response to an authentication request, without actually sharing any of the personal identity information stored with the requesting authority.

This understanding can be confirmed in an explainer put out by the UIDAI. On the very second page, a neat explainer clarifies that Aadhaar authentication will “[r]eturn response to requesting agencies as Yes/No’ and will not [r]eturn personal identity information of residents”.

This assurance was reiterated by Nandan Nilekani. In an interview to NDTV, responding to a question on whether the information collected would be shared, he had said:
“It is a black box. The purpose of this data is only in authentication. When you go somewhere to receive a service and you say I am Sreenivasan Jain, the system will reply it is him, or not him. That’s all it does. Only a yes or a no.”

Nilekani’s description gives the common man an impression that the Aadhaar project was designed in a manner that only allowed for personal information to be deposited in the Central Identities Data Repository without any mechanism to allow any person to extract such personal information. A crude analogy of a “blackbox”-style operation would be a vault in a bank that is constructed in a manner that it has a slot to allow people to deposit information in it but there is no way for any other person to open the vault and retrieve the information. In the case of the Aadhaar project, the information in question was only be used to authenticate a request from outside but would never itself leave the firewalls of the repository.

This guarantee was underwritten in Clause 5(2) of the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 introduced by the United Progressive Alliance government which clarified:
“Authority shall respond to an authentication query with a positive or negative response or with any other appropriate response excluding any demographic information and biometric information."

Thus any of the information collected by the Authority was not to be shared with the requester. This fact is further substantiated currently by the UIDAI website, which clearly states that during authentication “No personal identity information is returned as part of the response.”

The change
The Aadhaar Act, 2016 however completely alters this provision. Now renumbered as Section 8(4), it states:
“The Authority shall respond to an authentication query with a positive, negative or any other appropriate response sharing such identity information excluding any core biometric information”.

The difference between the different versions of this provision is that while the 2010 Bill states no identity information will be shared during the authentication process, the Aadhaar Act clearly gives the UIDAI the power to share identity information back with the requesting agency. The only information excluded from being shared is core biometric information such as fingerprints or iris scans.

Therefore, once you provide certain information to a requesting authority performing the authentication, the UIDAI while confirming the identity can legally share with the requesting authority the personal identity information of the person requesting authentication.

Contrary to common perception, the authentication process under the UIDAI does not mandatorily require a resident to submit either fingerprints or iris scans, which are the only unique identifiers. According to the UIDAI explainer referenced earlier, there are five types of authentication techniques – two of these types don’t require either fingerprints or iris scans for authentication. These two forms of authentication can take place in conjunction with either demographic information such as date of birth, name or address OR in conjunction with a one-time-password delivered to a mobile phone or email account associated with the Aadhaar number. 

Therefore, at least theoretically, it is possible for a “rogue” requesting authority to key in the Aadhaar number along with a name or date of birth to the UIDAI and in return get back more personal identity information such as the address or photograph.

Since demographic information isn’t conclusively defined in the Aadhaar Act and this function has been delegated to the UIDAI, it is not known just how much information will eventually be collected by the UIDAI.

Whether these nightmare scenarios actually play out, the fact remains that the “black box” system of operating which was considered a fundamental operating principle of the UIDAI has now been overturned.

The question at this stage is why exactly was this clause altered? The answer is not clear especially since the government has adopted blitzkrieg tactics to pass the Bill through Parliament.

Prashant Reddy Thikkavarapu studied law at the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, and at Stanford Law School. He is a practising lawyer based in Delhi.