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.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

10892 - Mandatory Aadhaar for welfare is fine but govt should address privacy, connectivity issues first - First Post


SeethaMar, 06 2017 16:34:47 IST

So Aadhaar is once again making news for the wrong reasons.

There’s now a uproar over Aadhaar being made mandatory for children to avail of mid-day meals in schools under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. According to this report in the Economic Times, Aadhaar has been made mandatory for 30 schemes under the government’s direct benefit transfer initiative and will be extended to 50 more.

Meanwhile, serious questions related to privacy have arisen with reports about the illegal storage of biometrics of individuals enrolled under Aadhaar. A private bank, a business correspondent firm and an e-sign provider were found to be attempting unauthorised authentication. The UIDAI has filed a police complaint regarding this. This has proved what privacy activists and other Aadhaar skeptics have been red-flagging for a long time, only to have their concerns dismissed by the Aadhaar defenders.
The outrage that the decision on mid-day meals has sparked off could well prompt a rollback, but that would be – dare I say it - a step in the wrong direction.
This writer has consistently argued that Aadhaar is, as of now, the best de-duplication tool to curb leakages in welfare delivery. This is the only way to ensure that a subsidy or welfare payout meant for A does not go to B and to eliminate ghost beneficiaries.
So it is perfectly alright for Aadhaar to be made mandatory for availing of government-provided welfare, whether it be scholarships, subsidised food or, yes, even mid-day meals.


Representational image. Reuters.

Denying children perhaps the only nutritious food they get – and also the only reason they may be coming to school – does appear cruel and unfeeling. But, those suggesting that this be junked have to come up with a fairly fool-proof way to weed out ghost beneficiaries.

This is a real problem, even in the case of mid-day meals, as this 2011 article shows. In Odisha, an identification drive by the government saw student enrolment in primary and upper primary schools drop by 11,000. The government was spending Rs 78 lakh a year for mid-day meals for these non-existent students.

This problem is not confined to Odisha. The finance minister of a northern state recently told this author about similar findings in his state, apart from leakages and diversion from anganwadis set up under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
This is happening across welfare schemes, as a result of which government money (which is really tax payers’ money) is being siphoned off even as the genuinely needy continue to suffer.
However this endorsement of Aadhaar comes with a huge rider.
If Aadhaar is to be made mandatory for availing of government benefits, it must also be mandatory for the government to put certain systems in place. These are completely non-negotiable systems and these need to be ensured before Aadhaar is made mandatory.

Privacy, needless to say, tops the priority list. The UIDAI has put out a strong defence of its privacy systems in the wake of the recent news reports. It has also filed a FIR against a Gurgaon-based think tank, Skoch Development Foundation, which had also pointed out security vulnerabilities in Aadhaar. Now, the UIDAI is perfectly within its rights to act against what it might feel are attempts to defame it, but it cannot brush away the privacy breach issue, as it has always done in the past.
Related to this is the creation of an eco-system that protects privacy. While this government has been quick to get the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 passed as a money bill, it has been dragging its feet on a privacy law. And let’s not forget what attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi said while arguing against a bunch of petitions in the Supreme Court challenging Aadhaar - that there was no fundamental right to privacy.
If the government wants to push ahead on Aadhaar, it has to start serious work on a privacy law without delay.
Priority number two has to be about ensuring connectivity in rural areas to allow biometric authentication. This article makes a telling point about the implementation problems of making Aadhaar mandatory.


The government is quick to boast about the financial savings it has achieved as a result of Aadhaar weeding out fake beneficiaries. UIDAI has claimed saving Rs 49,000 crore because of Aadhaar-based authentication. But has there be any counter-checking of whether this saving is coming purely from eliminating ghost beneficiaries or also from genuine beneficiaries being denied welfare because of implementation hurdles?
A related point: Activists have pointed out that fingerprint authentication and iris-based authentication are a problem in the case of those who do hard manual labourer as well as senior citizens who may have eye problems. These need to be verified and addressed, not dismissed as a problem affecting only a small percentage of transactions.
Let’s be clear: The narrative cannot be about saving costs to the government alone. The narrative has to be about financial savings to the government and the genuinely needy not being deprived of benefits due to them.
Priority number three has to be ensuring everyone does get Aadhaar. The government has to be pro-active in this. It can be argued that making Aadhaar mandatory is one way of ensuring that people get enrolled. But there has to be follow-up to ensure that this is happening and in a relatively pain-free manner. Having people go without Aadhaar and then claiming that those without it are all ghost beneficiaries is just not on.
What the government also needs to stop is the slow but steady creep of Aadhaar into areas where there is no government benefit being availed of. Aadhaar is to be quoted when buying railway tickets from April 1, while opening bank accounts, taking new mobile phone connections, filing FIRs, income tax returns or just signing as a witness for rent agreements. The government is also pushing for Aadhaar-based digital payments.
The Aadhaar law is about the targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services. It was also supposed to be about giving migrant population or those at the bottom of they pyramid an identity document to open bank accounts or avail government services. Why should it spread to other areas, including its use by the private sector, and well-off people who are not going to avail government benefits and have multiple ways of proving their identities?
The lack of movement on a privacy law becomes even more worrying in this context. With Aadhaar becoming the default identification document, it will become possible to map all of an individual’s transactions.

The Aadhaar project has its uses, certainly, but it is time for some stock-taking of its implementation, including concerns about its creep.


Published Date: Mar 06, 2017 04:10 pm | Updated Date: Mar 06, 2017 04:34 pm