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


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


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, December 6, 2016

10541 - Here’s Why Critics Are Against The Govt Decision Of Saving Aadhaar Records For 7 Yrs - Scoop Whoop

In a controversial new move, the Indian government will now be storing Aadhaar card records and data of users for seven years. The decision has provoked several familiar questions about state surveillance using the Aadhaar system.

What does this mean?
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI) is the institution that gives out the 12-digit Aadhaar card number to applicants. This unique biometric identity (fingerprints and iris prints or retina scans are recorded along with the number) is used every time the Aadhaar card is used by a holder.  

UIAI will now be required to store records of all transactions and services completed using the Aadhaar card by holders. These include applying for licenses, getting LPG subsidies, applying for passports, bank accounts and government schemes.

How will it work? 
Services acquired through the Aadhaar card will require the Aadhaar number and fingerprints of the particular card holder. Every time a holder uses the card number and inputs their fingerprints, the information will be sent to the UIAI database by the agency in question. 

A particular card holder's records will be maintained two years on the online UIAI database, after which it will be transferred to the offline archives of the institution. 

Card holders can check up on the records within the first two years while it is up on the online database, but after that, the records will not be available for public viewing. 

There are provisions for security agencies to go through the records at any time, given they can procure a district judge's permission.

According to Hindustan Times, however, even some high-level officers at the Centre may be granted access to the records, on asking, on grounds of national security. 

Why it might be a problem
Most government files are saved for a maximum of five years. Many critics are claiming that storing the data for seven years is a new way for the government to practice surveillance on the citizens of India. 

“This is an unprecedented centralised data retention provision,” Sunil Abraham, director of Centre for Internet and Society, told HT. 

Coming in the backdrop of increasing data surveillance mechanisms, such as the ambitious NATGRID, a programme meant to counter terrorism and insurgency in real time by increasing data and intelligence analysis, many are seeing this as just another additional source of data for NATGRID. 

Abraham, who has been a previous opponent of the government's new Aadhar policies, opines that once Adhar becomes mandatory for all services, the database could easily used by people with criminal intent to run a '360 degree surveillance' on any individual card holder. 

Big Brother in the making? 
Earlier in March, the government of India announced that central government agencies can access the biometric Aadhaar database if it is a matter of national security. The move followed a series of student protests and country-wide student unrest.

Raman Jit Singh Chima, policy director of a leading digital rights organization, Access, had earlier criticised India's lack of safeguarding machinery in going forward with the Aadhar biometrics database scheme. He was referring to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and Europe's data protection agencies, which oversee requests for access to user data, mechanisms which are missing in India. 

Implications in India
Fearing the possibility of India becoming a police state, with a surveillance grid even more close knit than the one maintained by NSA in US, uncovered by Edward Snowden in 2012, many ministers have also questioned the Aadhar bill. Odisha's Tathagata Satapathy, the chief whip of Biju Janata Dal, had questioned the government in March, as reported by Reuters

"Can the government ... assure us that this Aadhaar card and the data that will be collected under it – biometric, biological, iris scan, finger print, everything put together – will not be misused as has been done by the NSA in the U.S.?"

The BJP government maintains that the Aadhaar system, which was brought in place seven years ago to cut down on financial wastage and fraud during payments for services, has helped save the government an estimated 150 billion rupees in the 2014-15 financial year. 

Authorities at UIDI claim that the two year cap on public viewing of records is only to avoid a 'logistical nightmare', and that they would not be analyzing the 'purpose for which an authentication request' of data was sent, nut only the 'details of the agency that sent it'. 

However, the total surrender of all information to centralized government agencies has proved to be problematic internationally. With over a billion registered Aadhaar cards already in circulation in India, it is yet to be seen how the move will be accepted by citizens, opposition and the Supreme Court. 

Feature Image Source: PTI/Reuters