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, March 19, 2017

10901 - The 12-digit conundrum RICHA MISHRA - Hindu Businessline


RICHA MISHRA

  • Authenticated Though doubts have been raised about the safety of fingerprint data, officials insist that the biometrics are secure - RAMESH SHARMA 
Even as the Centre plans to link as many as 500 schemes to Aadhaar, concerns over data safety are rising. Richa Mishra reports

The developments of last few weeks seem to have made real some of the worst fears about Aadhaar. In February, UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) filed a police complaint alleging attempts of unauthorised authentication and impersonation of data related to Aadhaar. Since then, each and every machinery within the government has been trying to convince otherwise, that Aadhaar database is safe and secure, and that the data is protected both by the best available advanced technology as well as by the stringent legal provisions in the Aadhaar Act.

Not everyone is convinced. Critics say, biometrics only make the citizen transparent to the State, it does not make the State transparent to citizens. “We warned the government six years ago, but they ignored us,” said Sunil Abraham, Executive Director of Bengaluru-based research organisation, Centre for Internet and Society. According to him, the legislation implementing Aadhaar has almost no data protection guarantees for citizens. He also believes that by opting for biometrics instead of smart cards the government is using surveillance technology instead of e-governance technology.
“Biometrics is remote, covert and non-consensual identification technology. It is totally inappropriate for authentication. This has only increased the fragility of Indian cyber security,” he stresses.
However, officials associated with UIDAI dismiss these arguments. Collecting biometrics does not pose any threat to the right to privacy because people have been giving their thumb impression for ages, they say. “The biometrics are encrypted at source and kept safe and secure. Unauthorised sharing and leakage of the data does not happen. Fears related to collection of biometrics are not justified,” an official at the helm of affairs said. He requested anonymity.

“However, as and when we find that some suspicious activity or misuse is happening, we will strike at the very beginning itself. UIDAI has full authentication regulation under the Aadhaar Act that has to be followed. It specifies in what manner authorities can use Aadhaar,” the official pointed out.

On the ground
Even as the debate over data security rages, the aam aadmi seem to be little perturbed about the alleged risks involved. For Padmini, who works as a domestic help in East Delhi and is the sole bread earner for her family of four, the Aadhaar card meant access to all government benefits.

Koi farak nahi padta, kaun dekhta hai mera card. Mujhko LPG cylinder ka paisa bank mein mil jata hai,” (It doesn’t matter to me who sees my card. The subsidy for LPG gets transferred to my account) she says. “Baccho ke school admission mein bhi zaroorat pada,” (I needed it to get my children’s admission in school), she added. Sukh, a cab driver also uses it to get the LPG subsidy.

While everyone BusinessLine talked to were convinced that Aadhaar was not a citizenship card, the more aware ones saw it as a door that gave access to government schemes.
While they had a point, government officials are careful to make it clear that Aadhaar is not mandatory. But the popular perception increasingly points to the opposite view, especially after it emerged that Aadhaar might be made mandatory for children to receive midday meals at schools.

Another senior government official said, “Aadhaar is not mandatory under any welfare scheme of the government and no one is being deprived of a service or benefit for the want of Aadhaar…it’s required for availing a service/subsidy/benefit that accrues through the Consolidated Fund of India.” He added that those who do not have the 12-digit number would be provided with the facility to enrol by the Requiring Agency. “And till the time Aadhaar is assigned, alternative IDs would be allowed,” he said.

If a school which has to get Aadhaar enrolment done for its students puts the Aadhaar numbers of its students on its site and the same is used by someone, you can’t blame us, the official argues. Then, who is accountable?

Pushing for Aadhaar, the UIDAI officials cite the example of Kerala’s Department of General Education (DGE), which has integrated Aadhaar with the student databases and has thereby optimised the teacher-student ratio and identified the schools with excess teachers. In a single academic year, 3,892 excess teacher posts were identified.
“Due to this exercise, no new posts have been sanctioned for the last two years, resulting in notional savings of ₹540 crore per annum,” said a UIDAI official. After student enrolment in the state was linked to Aadhaar since 2012-2013, the head count of pupils have fallen by 5 lakh. Similar trends have been reported in Haryana. Critics have also pointed out the possible security risk in using AadhaarPay, the Andriod-based app. Merchants can download the app in their phone and install a fingerprint scanner linked to the phone. Customers with Aadhaar numbers can use their fingerprints (like the secret PIN in case of debit cards) to do a transaction. While doubts have been raised about the safety of fingerprint data, officials in the know blame the controversy on the “card lobbies.”

“Thirty crore Indians have no mobiles. They find it difficult to handle password, pin or card, this is where AadhaarPay will come handy,” the official added. “They don’t need a smart phone or feature phone. They don’t need a debit card.
“Today more than 112 crore people have the Aadhaar card. Approximately, 52.95 crore people have linked their Aadhaar numbers to their bank accounts. We already have a system of Aadhaar authentication in place,” the official added.

Government officials are at pain to point out the larger benefits of Aadhaar, including savings of more than ₹49,000 crore by plugging leakages in government schemes like PDS.

Government plans to increase the number of welfare schemes linked to Aadhaar from 36 to over 500. While the intent is good, concerns remain.

(This article was published on March 13, 2017)