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.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

10887 - The man in UIDAI’s crosshairs tells us about the biggest threats of Aadhaar


Ramarko Sengupta March 2, 2017 4 min


Lately, Aadhaar seems to have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Internet activists and lawyers have been raising security concerns about the central biometric database of over a billion Indians.

Meanwhile, one individual — Sameer Kochhar, an entrepreneur-writer who runs a Gurgaon-based think tank called Skoch Development Foundation — has reportedly attracted the ire of the authorities. According to an Asian Age report, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has filed an FIR against Kochhar for violating the Aadhaar Act. UIDAI is the body that issues 12-digit Aadhaar numbers to citizens for targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services.

We could not independently verify which clause of the Aadhaar Act Kochhar has “violated”. Delhi Police and UIDAI officials did not returns calls or respond to emails sent by FactorDaily.

Sameer Kochhar

According to an Asian Age report, the police complaint was regarding an article published in Kochhar’s magazine, Inclusion

It talked about security loopholes in Aadhaar and also contained a video showing how unauthorised transactions can be carried out on the system  

According to the Asian Age report, the police complaint was regarding an article entitled Is a deep state at work to steal digital India that Kochhar had published in his magazine, Inclusion, on February 11. The article, which talked about security loopholes in Aadhaar, also contained an embedded video showing how unauthorised transactions can be carried out on the system. In the video, a woman demonstrates that it’s possible to save the biometric data of an Aadhaar cardholder and later use without that concerned person being physically present.

Recently, the UIDAI also filed a complaint with the Delhi Police against Axis Bank, its business correspondent Suvidhaa, and eMudhra (a firm that issues digital signature certificates) over concerns that the they had saved biometric data. The Aadhaar Act bars storing of biometric data in any system or device. Violation can attract jail time of up to three years along with a fine.

ABP Pandey, UIDAI CEO, in a series of tweets, however, claimed that “the video is fake” and went on to say that Aadhaar is “fully secure”.

The Twitterati is aghast at the UIDAI filing a police complaint rather than rewarding the person who tried to expose loopholes in the system for it to be strengthened.

FactorDaily spoke to (and emailed) Kochhar, who finds himself in the middle of a storm, and here’s what he had to say.

Q: You have been pointing out security loopholes in Aadhaar for a while. Is that why you’re being targeted and the FIR was filed against you by an UIDAI official?
A: I don’t know if I am being targeted. I have only read that there is a FIR. As per one newspaper, I have already been arrested.

Q: Do you think the FIR could have anything to do with the recent Axis Bank-Aadhaar incident that was exposed. Could it have acted as a trigger?
A: Absolutely.

Q: Have you been approached by the police yet?
A: No one has approached me, neither police nor the UIDAI.

Q: You have apparently violated the Aadhaar Act. Do you know which clause in the Act the FIR refers to? Surely, the Act can’t penalise citizens for raising security concerns.
A: My knowledge of the act is limited and you’d surely hope that there is no provision about the media and citizens reporting concerns (about Aadhaar).

Q: In a nutshell, what are the biggest threats that Aadhaar poses in its current form? And what can the UIDAI do to plug the holes?
A: The omnipresence of Aadhaar and the resultant security issues. I believe now even Skype may require Aadhaar.

Q: In your article ‘Is a deep state at work to steal digital India?’ you raise a number of questions. Are the authorities trying to stop you from following up on these questions and do you think the FIR is a veiled threat to you?
A: I have nothing to say on the subject currently. The authorities have been apprised of my concerns and I am awaiting their response to my confidential letter.

Q: Do you feel free speech is under threat in the country?
A: Well, no one has stopped me from speaking yet.

Q: In this backdrop, how important do you think is the speech bill, which Odisha MP Tathagata Satpathy has been trying to push in Parliament? Also, India does not have a privacy law yet — what are your thoughts on that?
A: India needs to have the strongest possible privacy and cybersecurity laws and yet uphold civil liberties. It is a tough one to balance.

Sameer Kochhar’s image is from his Twitter handle.