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, September 1, 2016

10352 - Extending Aadhaar to more areas is a hare-brained idea, it should be dropped - First Post



News reports that the mandatory use of Aadhaar could be extended to a host of new areas are extremely disturbing. 

According to these reports, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has identified 20 new areas for which Aadhaar can be made mandatory. This includes registration of companies and NGOs, insurance, competitive examinations and property and vehicle registration.

If this happens, then it confirms the worst suspicions of all those who are opposed to Aadhaar – and this spans ideological divides – that it can be used to seriously compromise individual privacy.


A villager scanning fingerprint for Aadhaar. Reuters file photo
The defenders of Aadhaar – mainly the previous and current governments, the UIDAI and Nandan Nilekani, the father of the Aadhaar – have always argued that these concerns are exaggerated. They have pointed out that Aadhaar does not take any details that are not already in the public domain – name, date of birth and permanent address – and that the biometric data is not shared with any of the authorities that seek verification by Aadhaar. That data remains with the UIDAI and it only confirms that a person with a particular Aadhaar number is who he claims he is.

But Aadhaar’s opponents have argued that the extensive use of Aadhaar allows disparate bits of information to be linked and this could become a genuine concern if this hare-brained idea gets official approval.

Now, there is certainly no doubt that Aadhaar is, in the absence of anything better, the best technological tool for establishing identity. It is not entirely fool-proof – there are issues relating to the fingerprints of manual labourers and iris scan of aged people or those with cataract – a solution needs to be found for this. According to this report by the Centre for Internet and Society, there was fingerprint authentication failure in 290 of 790 ration card holders in Andhra Pradesh who did not lift rations, and there was an ID mismatch in 93 instances. These problems notwithstanding, there is no denying that Aadhaar has helped in significantly containing (perhaps not entirely eliminating) the problem of identity theft for diversion of government doles and other benefits.

So making Aadhaar compulsory for such cases is perfectly justifiable. Indeed, the Act giving legal status to Aadhaar is called Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.

Mandatory quoting of Aadhaar can even be justified in the cases where duplication or falsification of identity can be used by criminals or those who fall foul of the law. Passports, for example, can be brought under the ambit of Aadhaar. Or even driving licences. A person whose licence has been suspended for repeated traffic violations should not be allowed to get another one under the same name or an assumed name.

But why should it be mandatory for bank accounts, if an individual is not interested in getting government doles? The quoting of Aadhaar for property transactions also does not make sense. If the idea is to prevent fraudulent transactions, it will not be foolproof. A person intending to sell an already sold property or one he does not own can do so even with an Aadhaar number, since people are allowed to own more than one piece of property. What will prevent this from happening is compulsory registration and digitisation of records as well as mandatory property titling; there has been little progress on both.

When filing of income tax returns is not possible without a PAN, there is little rationale for making Aadhaar mandatory for filing returns and even for PAN. It is not clear how quoting of Aadhaar is going to help in ensuring that fly-by-night companies and NGOs do not get established.

The insistence of Aadhaar on purchase of vehicles, landline and mobile phone connections and demat accounts is seriously violative of individual privacy and has enormous potential for misuse. The Act does give the government unbridled power to access data in the name of national security. This itself is worrying, since it can allow security agencies to go an random fishing expeditions to access personal financial transactions. Making it mandatory for even buying cars and phone connections (even though it is not illegal to own more than one vehicle or telephone connection) makes it even riskier – private agencies get access to one’s Aadhaar number. Forget security agencies, even unscrupulous private persons can track an individual’s personal activities, especially financial transactions.
As it is, investigating agencies want to tap Aadhaar and biometric data at the drop of a hat. The UIDAI had to approach the Supreme Court in 2014 against a Goa High Court order ordering it to share biometric details of everyone enrolled in the state for solving a gang rape case. Even after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of UIDAI, a Kerala special investigation team wanted it to share biometric details to solve another rape case. If Aadhaar now becomes mandatory for a host of financial and other transactions, the points of potential privacy breaches only increase.

The move to extend the mandatory use of Aadhaar has to be stopped in its tracks. The mandatory use should be limited to delivery of government welfare benefits and doles (after ensuring that glitches are eliminated) and security-related services like passports. For everything else, it should be purely voluntary. There can be no compromise on this.