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, May 3, 2016

9912 - Bohra community's smart card system shows us what a post-Aadhaar world could look like-Scroll.In

BIG BROTHER

Published Apr 30, 2016 · 09:15 am.   Updated Apr 30, 2016 · 09:57 am.


The sect uses radio-frequency enabled identity cards to keep track of the religious activities of its members.

Image credit:  Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

A month after the Lok Sabha hurriedly passed the Aadhaar Bill, the debate over privacy and surveillance related to the gathering of biometric data by the Unique Identification Authority continues. The Bill, notified as a law on March 28, allows the government to collect and centralise biometric data of its citizens, and assign each individual with a unique 12-digit identification number.

Though Aadhar numbers are ostensibly to be used to transfer government subsidies and benefits to those eligible for a variety of welfare schemes, the law also gives the Unique Identification Authority the discretion to let any “requesting entity”, including private businesses, access the Aadhaar database. Even before the Aadhaar bill was notified, some private companies began to advertise apps and services that would use Aadhaar numbers to perform background checks on potential employees. This is worrying in a country without a privacy law in place.
For now, citizens can only imagine the extent to which their biometric data could be misused. But why just imagine? To get a clearer picture of what unwanted mass surveillance could look like, we need to look only as far as the small Dawoodi Bohra sect of Shia Islam, and the electronic identity cards it has made mandatory for its followers.

From E-jamaat to ITS
Dawoodi Bohras, who predominantly hail from Gujarat, are estimated to number 1.5 million worldwide. Around half of them live in India. A close-knit business community, the Bohras are known to be wealthy, well-educated and also tightly-controlled by the dawat – the religious and administrative headquarters of the sect. The head of the dawat is the community’s leader, known as the Syedna.

A decade ago, the leadership issued mandatory E-jamaat cards for all Bohras. These were identity cards linked to an electronic database that contains personal and professional details of individual community members. The plastic E-jamaat card was meant to serve as a Bohra’s passport to the community – to be scanned while entering mosques or pilgrimage spots.

Around three years ago, all Bohras were asked to upgrade their E-jamaat cards to new smart cards called ITS cards (short for Idaratut Ta’reef al Shakhsi). These are radio frequency-enabled, bar-coded identity cards that connect to an international database managed by the Bohra dawat.

To upgrade to the ITS card, Bohras were expected to report at their local mosque and get photographed with very precise specifications, much like a passport photo. While their biometric data, such as fingerprints or iris scans, were not taken, the ITS registration form asked for personal and professional details of an individual’s entire family, which some Bohras found intrusive. “I remember asking them how secure they would keep such sensitive information,” said Fatema (identity concealed on request), a Bohra from the UK. “But of course I got no answer.”

The Bohra website for the authentication of the ITS smart card.

Big Brother watching?
Like the E-jamaat card, Bohras are told to scan their ITS cards every time they enter a mosque, community hall or musafir khana (pilgrim guest house) anywhere in the world. Access to the dawat’s main website is also restricted to those who have an ITS number. Thus, only card-holders can access online application forms to go for pilgrimages or attend major religious events.

For many pious Bohras, this is a welcome convenience. But for many others, it is a form of policing. “The card records everything,” said Jameela (identity concealed on request), a Mumbai resident. “[From] the number of times you go to the masjid, how often you attend Moharram sermons, what time you enter the mosque for sermons and more.”

Faiyaz (identity concealed), a Bohra businessman from Pune, said he resented the fact that the ITS card was considered mandatory for anyone who wished to remain within the community fold. “Our privacy is completely lost,” said Faiyaz. “Last Moharram, I actually got a call from my local mosque asking me why I had not been attending sermons, because they saw that my card had not been swiped. I know people who send their cards with their wives to be swiped by proxy at the mosque.”

Even donations are not anonymous anymore, said Faiyaz, because religious authorities insist on recording the donated amount on the ITS database.

Community members are afraid to openly criticise the Syedna or the dawat because it could entail getting excommunicated. But the resentment against the surveillance enabled by the smart card is evident on online forums. One thread on Dawoodi-Bohras.com is called “Shredded my E-jamaat card”.

“The card is really creepy because the moment you scan it, they can see your entire history of records instantly,” said Fatema. “They say it is for organisational purposes, but it’s really like Big Brother is watching you.”

ITS and Aadhaar
This sentiment is familiar to activists protesting the use of the Aadhaar card. An electronic database of citizens’ demographic and biometric information could easily be used for similar surveillance of anyone the state may deem suspicious. Handing over such data to private, commercial parties poses even greater threats to privacy.

While the government has claimed that the biometric information will not be handed out to any “requesting entity”, the Aadhaar Act allows for this data to be disclosed to any government joint secretary “in the interest of national security” – a phrase that remains undefined.

“Aadhaar is a platform that will be used to converge all existing databases, and it is already happening,” said Gopal Krishna, a member of the Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties. “The fear is that it could be used to classify and profile all kinds of citizens.”
Krishna said the Bohra ITS card can easily be compared to the Aadhaar. “The community’s members need to realise that electronic databases are never really secure, and may not remain in control of the community authorities,” he said. “Bohras are endangering themselves because their information can be used not only for surveillance by their own clergy but also can be used by any hostile body to get personal information about them.”

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