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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Thursday, May 26, 2016

10032 - The Aadhaar Act’s a done deal. What next? - Hindu Business Line


SV DIVVAAKAR

More clarity is needed on the extent and scope of commercial utilisation of the world’s largest human database

The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha as a money bill. Simultaneously, the Government withdrew the National Identification Authority of India Bill languishing in Parliament since 2010.

This transition is significant, for it establishes the primary purpose of Aadhaar as not to get individuals an identity document per se, but as a financial identifier for error-free benefit transfers of expenditures covered by the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI), to rightful beneficiaries. With this, the Government has got the right to use Aadhaar enrolment as a means to deliver and track benefits.

Over a billion Aadhaar cards have been issued, digital seeding of beneficiary names with Aadhaar numbers and nominated bank accounts is well under way for over 30 central DBT schemes, and a bank-led agent-assisted payments network is being set up nationwide.

The Aadhaar piece is the kingpin, the traceable identifier that authenticates every beneficiary and credits benefits or any rightful payments into a designated Aadhaar-linked bank account. Aadhaar’s principal differentiator is biometric authentication to establish whether you are who you claim to be, and identical twins have differentiating biometrics. Thus, Aadhaar constitutes a ‘governance tool’ for the provision of public services.

However, opportunities exist for other actors — full service banks and payment banks, even merchants — to offer services built upon Aadhaar-authentication. The ready and licensed accessibility of a unitary, verified database can save huge KYC costs for individual service providers.

Greater common good?
It is important to establish whether the Aadhaar repository is a broader ‘public good’ accessible to all, like a national highway, or is it to remain an exclusive ‘e-governance’ enabler of the Government. This has implications not only for state agencies, but also for the huge digital payments market opportunity that awaits India.

The Aadhaar Act is formulated specifically for expenditures covered under the CFI. Thus, its extension to benefits transfers by State governments is not automatic. To derive its full benefit, there is need to introduce mirroring State-level legislation for expenditures not covered by the CFI.

More clarity is needed on the extent and scope of commercial utilisation of the UID database, especially sharing or licensing of the information to private parties. These opportunities are not explicit in the Act, although the concept of a Requesting Entity and Aadhaar User Agency are introduced.

Will the Aadhaar User Agreements be universally accessible to service providers? For what types of financial and non-financial services? Under what conditions and safeguards? Widening Aadhaar’s scope also brings to the fore appropriate concerns relating to personal rights, data security and related accountabilities in respect of the security of the world’s largest human database. Some stakeholders have questioned whether the world’s largest human database is secure, robust and hack-proof enough. Technical experts defend that sufficient safeguards are in place, including 2048-bit encryption, distributed and redundant storage.

The Government, particularly UIDAI, needs to: (a) allay the general concerns partly rooted in insufficient knowledge; (b) demonstrate the safeguards already addressed in the system architecture; and (c) use appropriate best-in-class technology to maintain the integrity of the database.

Repository of faith
The primary custodianship of the identity information is with the UIDAI. Even though all persons with licensed access to Aadhaar-related information are liable to keep it secure and confidential, the penalties are meagre in relation to the potential misuse. The ₹10,000-fine (1 lakh for a company) is much more dilute than under the Information Technology Act 2000, which prescribes for a transacting party compensation up to ₹5 crore for mishandling ‘sensitive personal data’.

It is imperative to affix unambiguous responsibilities for the integrity and security of the database and build appropriately strong deterrents and penalties for breach and unauthorised usage. The UIDAI’s external liabilities are not clarified in the Act but these would need to be appropriate to the potential impact from misuse.

At a minimum, there should be principles of liability cover and procedures in line with the banking and finance sector because enrolment is at the State’s behest. In essence, Aadhaar authentication is concerned with validating an individual. To what extent does non-biometric information exchanged constitute sensitive, personal information proprietary to the person, more than already available forms such as PAN card, credit card, driver licence, electoral lists, etc.?

What are the limits (one-time or cart blanche) to the prior consent for use of the identity information? Who owns the customer data? Can an individual opt out and ask for complete withdrawal and erasure of the information given? All these questions go beyond Aadhaar and can be settled only under a privacy law to which the Government should accord high priority in the parliamentary process.

Hopefully, the procedural rules under the Act will address and clarify these issues.

The writer is advisor to the Indicus Centre for Financial Inclusion
(This article was published on May 25, 2016)