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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Monday, March 20, 2017

10908 - Privacy concerns multiply for Aadhaar, India’s national biometric identity registry - One World Identity


March 17, 2017


The largest and most sophisticated biometric identity system of any country in the world, India’s Aadhaar, is sparking new fears that the personal data it stores on more than 1.1 billion people could be vulnerable to exploitation.

Aadhaar, which translates to “foundation” in Hindi, is a unique 12-digit code tied to citizens’ biometric data and personal information. The system was launched in 2009 in an effort to extend social services to India’s millions of unregistered citizens, and to cut down on welfare benefit “leakage” resulting from an opaque and often corrupt bureaucracy.

Constructing a centralized repository of biometric data on nearly a fifth of the world’s population has raised serious concerns among privacy advocates.

The government has also looked to Aadhaar data to underpin mobile payment transfer platforms, which have become crucial for cashless transactions during the country’s demonetization push over past year.

But constructing a centralized repository of biometric data on nearly a fifth of the world’s population has raised serious concerns among privacy advocates, who cite several vulnerabilities both with the Aadhaar system and the Modi administration’s planned expansion.

Despite this, recent metrics indicate that Aadhaar has been enormously successful in achieving those goals. Though the program is theoretically voluntary, more than 99% of Indian adults are now enrolled. Over three billion individual identity verifications have been conducted, and some reports indicate that the Indian government is saving a billion dollars per year now that welfare subsidies can be paid to citizens directly through Aadhaar-verified fund transfers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ambitions to broaden the system even further, seeking to use Aadhaar as the gateway for accessing government programs ranging from public education to subsidized cooking gas, as well as partnering with private companies to offer services facilitated by the Aadhaar database.
Concerns, however, remain. One primary worry is that India’s legal framework for information security is still weak and fragmented, despite government assurances that Aadhaar biometrics have never been misused or stolen.


“There are no regulations in India on safeguards over and procedures for the collection, processing, storage, retention, access, disclosure, destruction, and anonymization of sensitive personal information by any service provider,” according to a 2016 World Bank report.

A patchwork of rules outlining “reasonable security practices and procedures” for personal data has accumulated since Aadhaar was launched, but there is no codified law outlining how data in the system must be secured, or what penalties exist for potential leaks, fraud or misuse.

“Imagine a situation where the police (are) secretly capturing the iris data of protesters and then identifying them through their biometric records” – Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore

This regulatory gap poses a particularly acute risk now that the government has begun offering companies and app developers support for starting new businesses that use Aadhaar data. 

Through a new initiative called IndiaStack, the administration is providing open program interfaces for companies in fintech, healthcare, and other areas to integrate Aadhaar-based transactions into their business platforms. While IndiaStack’s terms of use explicitly state that user consent is required for any information sharing between service providers and the Aadhaar database, doubts remain about the integrity of the network infrastructure and the lack of clarity surrounding acceptable information sharing and storing protocols.

Another source of concern is the risk that Aadhaar information could be leveraged by the government itself for political purposes.

“Maintaining a central database is akin to getting the keys of every house in Delhi and storing them at a central police station,” Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, told Reuters. “It is very easy to capture iris data of any individual with the use of next generation cameras. Imagine a situation where the police (are) secretly capturing the iris data of protesters and then identifying them through their biometric records.”

Further stoking fears of federal overreach, the Modi administration has attempted to make Aadhaar registration mandatory in certain sectors, violating a Supreme Court ruling from October 2015 that enrollment must remain voluntary.

Still, the benefits of building on the Aadhaar identity system appear to be outweighing the risks for now, and the system is gathering momentum worldwide. The World Bank is helping market the Aadhaar model abroad, and Russia, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria have all expressed interest in instituting national biometric identity programs of their own. Microsoft is already on board, and Google is negotiating ways to get involved.

Aadhaar may indeed live up to is potential and become the global standard for universal legal identity, but until India can manage to create more robust mechanisms to protect citizens’ personal data, their security could remain uncertain.