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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Sunday, July 17, 2016

10157 - Trust at your fingertips Narayanan Krishnaswami | TNN


Narayanan Krishnaswami | TNN | Jun 19, 2016, 07.01 PM

Aadhaar's use of biometrics might not allay the fears of privacy activists but Anil K Jain, the 68-year-old computer scientist who helped build the system, says it offers more privacy than what is in the US. 

Jain, an award winning professor from the Michigan State University, holds several patents in fingerprint recognition. The IIT Kanpur alumnus, who was in the city recently, talks about how security concerns have led to the rise of biometrics. 

How did you get into biometrics? 

I was doing my PhD at Ohio State University in 1973. I was working on pattern recognition and image quality. One of the research projects that my advisor had was funded by the United States Air Force. The USAF wanted to use computers to distinguish between three kinds of aircraft: MiG, Mirage and Phantom based on features extracted from their photographs. You've got to remember that this was when we were using punch cards to communicate with mainframes. It was a cumbersome process. We bought model airplanes and photographed them from a variety of angles. 

Later on, in 2001, we got a call from another federal agency, which had funded the development of a new powerful computer processor, called FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), one that could be reconfigured for specific tasks. The object was pattern recognition again, and my students and I conceived that fingerprint recognition would be a good way of using this processor's capabilities. 

How did you get involved with the Aadhaar programme? 

I got involved during the planning stages, around 2008. At that time, Nandan Nilekani had recruited Raj Mashruwala, an entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley, for it. Mashruwala contacted me because he believed the project could use my experience with biometrics, in particular fingerprint recognition. 

I began as an advisor, and my main job was to assist in the biometric deduplications system design (avoiding redundant information) and technical specifications for the vendors. I also roped in other people - experts, and my ex-students to help with this massive task. 

Why has biometric identification taken off in a big way? 

In the 60s if you said that your fingerprints had been taken, it meant that you were suspected of a crime. In other words, the word "fingerprinting" had the connotation of "criminality". Then, fingerprints began to be used by various government agencies to conduct "background check" for people working in sensitive jobs. Before, when people stayed and worked in the same locality, and everyone knew everyone else, you could settle things with a handshake. But now, especially with the increase of security threats, there has been a decline in trust. All of this has led to the necessity and acceptance of biometrics. 

How does computerized fingerprint identification work? 

If you take a look at your finger, you will see it is a series of ridges and valleys. Sometimes, a ridge will end at a point - or will branch out. Now these points are distinctive, and are called minutiae. When you give your fingerprints to the Aadhaar programme - or elsewhere, the images are stored as 512x512 pixels. At that resolution, you will be able to get anything between 60 to 100 minutiae points for each fingerprint, and these are stored in the database. Now, when you give your fingerprints say when you are entering the US, and they check to see whether you are on file, what happens is that these points are matched. If there are 20-25 matches of these points, we can state that the same finger made both prints. 

It's a similar principle to what Apple or Samsung use when they use your fingerprint to allow you to access your phone. But those fingerprints are stored at 90x90 pixels, and therefore the number of points stored is fewer. So even six matches would mean a fingerprint match, so the manufacturers have to use additional methods to bolster security. 

But that leads to other problems. At my lab, we've been able to use a special kind of paper to generate fingerprints that can be used to open phones. The printer prints out fingerprints on the paper, and you can use the printed fingerprint on your phone's detector to unlock the phone. 

What are the misconceptions about biometrics? 

The most common problem that I have seen is that people think that biometrics is foolproof. Every security system is prone to error. What we need to ask is 'What is the error rate?' Another problem is that sometimes people expect too much. A good biometrics system costs a lot of money, and one of the first questions people ask is 'What is the ROI'. But the problem is most current systems are inadequate as far as security is concerned. 

And that's something I've heard as far as Aadhaar is concerned. What you have to remember is that Aadhaar is not a security system. It is for giving the underprivileged access to services. Now, if you remember, after 911, the 911 commission found that while all the US security had some information about the impending attacks, they were not able to prevent them because they didn't talk to each other. Now, after implementing the recommendations, the FBI can do a search and match a face from an image in a CCTV feed to driving licence database. 

The Aadhaar programme provides more privacy than that. The only thing that you can do is query the database - 'Do these fingerprints belong to this person?' and the only answers are yes or no.