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, April 5, 2017

10965 - Aadhaar marks a fundamental shift in citizen-state relations: From ‘We the People’ to ‘We the Government’ - Hindustan Times


Your fingerprints, iris scans, details of where you shop. Compulsory Aadhaar means all this data is out there. And it’s still not clear who can view or use it
INDIA Updated: Apr 03, 2017 12:34 Ist


Pranesh Prakash 
Hindustan Times

Until recently, people were allowed to opt out of Aadhaar and withdraw consent to have their data stored. This is no longer going to be an option.(Siddhant Jumde / HT Illustration)

Imagine you’re walking down the street and you point the camera on your phone at a crowd of people in front of you. An app superimposes on each person’s face a partially-redacted name, date of birth, address, whether she’s undergone police verification, and, of course, an obscured Aadhaar number.

OnGrid, a company that bills itself as a “trust platform” and offers “to deliver verifications and background checks”, used that very imagery in an advertisement last month. Its website notes that “As per Government regulations, it is mandatory to take consent of the individual while using OnGrid”, but that is a legal requirement, not a technical one.

Since every instance of use of Aadhaar for authentication or for financial transactions leaves behind logs in the Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) databases, the government can potentially have very detailed information about everything from the your medical purchases to your use of video-chatting software. The space for digital identities as divorced from legal identities gets removed. Clearly, Aadhaar has immense potential for profiling and surveillance. Our only defence: law that is weak at best and non-existent at worst.


The Aadhaar Act and Rules don’t limit the information that can be gathered from you by the enrolling agency; it doesn’t limit how Aadhaar can be used by third parties (a process called ‘seeding’) if they haven’t gathered their data from UIDAI; it doesn’t require your consent before third parties use your Aadhaar number to collate records about you (eg, a drug manufacturer buying data from various pharmacies, and creating profiles using Aadhaar).

It even allows your biometrics to be shared if it is “in the interest of national security”. The law offers provisions for UIDAI to file cases (eg, for multiple enrollments), but it doesn’t allow citizens to file a case against private parties or the government for misuse of Aadhaar or identity fraud, or data breach.

It is also clear that the government opposes any privacy-related improvements to the law. After debating the Aadhaar Bill in March 2016, the Rajya Sabha passed an amendment by MP Jairam Ramesh that allowed people to opt out of Aadhaar, and withdraw their consent to UIDAI storing their data, if they had other means of proving their identity (thus allowing Aadhaar to remain an enabler).

But that amendment, as with all amendments passed in the Rajya Sabha, was rejected by the Lok Sabha, allowing the government to make Aadhaar mandatory, and depriving citizens of consent. While the Aadhaar Act requires a person’s consent before collecting or using Aadhaar-provided details, it doesn’t allow for the revocation of that consent.

In other countries, data security laws require that a person be notified if her data has been breached. In response to an RTI application asking whether UIDAI systems had ever been breached, the Authority responded that the information could not be disclosed for reasons of “national security”.
The citizen must be transparent to the state, while the state will become more opaque to the citizen.


HOW DID AADHAAR CHANGE?
How did Aadhaar become the behemoth it is today, with it being mandatory for hundreds of government programmes, and even software like Skype enabling support for it?
The first detailed look one had at the UID project was through an internal UIDAI document marked ‘Confidential’ that was leaked through WikiLeaks in November 2009. That 41-page dossier is markedly different from the 170-page ‘Technology and Architecture’ document that UIDAI has on its website now, but also similar in some ways.

In neither of those is the need for Aadhaar properly established. Only in November 2012 — after scholars like Reetika Khera pointed out UIDAI’s fundamental misunderstanding of leakages in the welfare delivery system — was the first cost-benefit analysis commissioned, by when UIDAI had already spent ₹28 billion. That same month, Justice KS Puttaswamy, a retired High Court judge, filed a PIL in the Supreme Court challenging Aadhaar’s constitutionality, wherein the government has argued privacy isn’t a fundamental right.

Every time you use Aadhaar, you leave behind logs in the UIDAI databases. This means that the government can potentially have very detailed information about everything from the your medical purchases to your use of video-chatting software.
Even today, whether the ‘deduplication’ process — using biometrics to ensure the same person can’t register twice — works properly is a mystery, since UIDAI hasn’t published data on this since 2012. Instead of welcoming researchers to try to find flaws in the system, UIDAI recently filed an FIR against a journalist doing so.

At least in 2009, UIDAI stated it sought to prevent anyone from “[e]ngaging in or facilitating profiling of any nature for anyone or providing information for profiling of any nature for anyone”, whereas the 2014 document doesn’t. As OnGrid’s services show, the very profiling that the UIDAI said it would prohibit is now seen as a feature that all, including private companies, may exploit.

UID has changed in other ways too. In 2009, it was as a system that never sent out any information other than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, which it did in response to queries like ‘Is Pranesh Prakash the name attached to this UID number’ or ‘Is April 1, 1990 his date of birth’, or ‘Does this fingerprint match this UID number’.
With the addition of e-KYC (wherein UIDAI provides your demographic details to the requester) and Aadhaar-enabled payments to the plan in 2012, the fundamentals of Aadhaar changed. This has made Aadhaar less secure.

SECURITY CONCERNS
With Aadhaar Pay, due to be launched on April 14, a merchant will ask you to enter your Aadhaar number into her device, and then for your biometrics — typically a fingerprint, which will serve as your ‘password’, resulting in money transfer from your Aadhaar-linked bank account.

Basic information security theory requires that even if the identifier (username, Aadhaar number etc) is publicly known — millions of people names and Aadhaar numbers have been published on dozens of government portals — the password must be secret. That’s how most logins works, that’s how debit and credit cards work. How are you or UIDAI going to keep your biometrics secret?

In 2015, researchers in Carnegie Mellon captured the iris scans of a driver using car’s side-view mirror from distances of up to 40 feet. In 2013, German hackers fooled Apple iOS’s fingerprint sensors by replicating a fingerprint from a photo taken off a glass held by an individual. They even replicated the German Defence Minister’s fingerprints from photographs she herself had put online. Your biometrics can’t be kept secret.
Typically, even if your username (in this case, Aadhaar number) is publicly known, your password must be secret. That’s how most logins works, that’s how debit and credit cards work. How are you or UIDAI going to keep your biometrics secret?
In the US, in a security breach of 21.5 million government employees’ personnel records in 2015, 5.2 million employees’ fingerprints were copied. If that breach had happened in India, those fingerprints could be used in conjunction with Aadhaar numbers not only for large-scale identity fraud, but also to steal money from people’s bank accounts.
All ‘passwords’ should be replaceable. If your credit card gets stolen, you can block it and get a new card. If your Aadhaar number and fingerprint are leaked, you can’t change it, you can’t block it.
The answer for Aadhaar too is to choose not to use biometrics alone for authentication and authorisation, and to remove the centralised biometrics database. And this requires a fundamental overhaul of the UID project.
Aadhaar marks a fundamental shift in citizen-state relations: from ‘We the People’ to ‘We the Government’. If the rampant misuse of electronic surveillance powers and wilful ignorance of the law by the state is any precedent, the future looks bleak. The only way to protect against us devolving into a total surveillance state is to improve rule of law, to strengthen our democratic institutions, and to fundamentally alter Aadhaar. Sadly, the political currents are not only not favourable, but dragging us in the opposite direction.

(Pranesh Prakash is policy director at the Centre for Internet and Society, and Affiliated Fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project)