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, April 6, 2017

10969 - Digital native: You can check out, you can never leave - Indin Express


Aadhaar is not something you define and opt into, it is something that defines you.
Written by Nishant Shah | Published:April 2, 2017 12:00 am


The question is not only of privacy. What is at stake is a government pushing radical transformations of the life of its citizens without consulting them.

Ok. I get it. You don’t want yet another piece on the horrors and perils of the surveillance state that has come to the forefront with Aadhaar numbers now being tied to our taxes. I know that you must have already made up your mind about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. If you believe that the way to streamlining bureaucracy and making our systems more accountable is transparency, then you are ready to welcome the digital ecosystem of Aadhaar, as introducing checks and balances that might help to curb some of the excesses and wastes of our governance systems . If you are of the opinion, however, that the state cannot be trusted with our information, without the oversee of the Parliament and the judiciary, then you want to resist this mandatory implementation of the “voluntary” Aadhaar. And, for once, I am unable to take a side, favouring one set of arguments over the other. 

This ambiguity does not come from a lack of political conviction. I continue to fear about the future of our lives when these technologies of control and domination fall in the hands of governments which have an authoritarian bend of mind.

Instead, my lack of preference on the good, bad and ugly sides of Aadhaar stems from a completely different concern around network technologies of digital connectivity that has found very little attention in the almost zealous discourse about “yes Aadhaar, no Aadhaar”.

This is a concern about the relationship between technological networks and the messy realities that we embody. There has been an easy acceptance of a digital network as a description of our everyday life. If you look at any network that you belong to — from public discussion forums to private WhatsApp groups — you will realise that these networks offer to visualise your connections and transactions with the people, places and things in your circles. Thus, it is possible to say that Facebook describes your collection of friends and your social life. Or you could suggest that LinkedIn is a visualisation of your professional landscape. And, in a similar vein, we can also propose that Aadhaar is a representation of the working of our government systems of identification.

Each one of these propositions, seemingly innocent, is blatantly wrong. Facebook, for example, didn’t just connect you with your friends. It has fundamentally changed the idea of what is a friend. For a generation of young people who grew up naturalised in social media, the notion of a friend has lost all its meaning and nuance. Every connection, acquaintance, friend of a friend, a random stranger who likes the same band as you do, is now a friend. And the increasing anxiety we have about people falling prey to predatory friendships is because Facebook has now normalised the idea that if somebody calls you their friend, you don’t have to worry about sharing personal and private information with them. Similarly , for anybody who has spent time on LinkedIn, we know that it is not just a portal that describes our work. It is the space where we stay connected with events and people far removed from us. It is the resource pool that we draw on while looking for new work. It is also the space that we keep an eye on just to see if a better job has opened up. It is a collection of events, links and connections that not only shows what you do but what you aspire for, who you connect with and what are the kinds of professional ambitions you see for yourself.

Just like Facebook and LinkedIn, which don’t just describe a reality but actually simulate, prescribe and shape it, Aadhaar is a digital network that is seeking to change the very foundational reality of our lives. Like most digital networks, it is not merely an explanation of how things are but the context within which who we are and what we do finds meaning and validation. Thus, Aadhaar might propose that it is merely trying to describe your identity but it is actually offering to shape a new one for you. The programme might suggest that it is trying to implement a system already in place, but it is, in reality, creating an entirely new system within which you and I have to now find space, function and identity. The latest announcements of mainstreaming Aadhaar merely betray this fact – that Aadhaar is not something you define and opt into, Aadhaar defines you. And opting out is going to have severe penalties and consequences.

Digital networks have long masqueraded as benign visualisations of the world. But they are, in principle, blueprints that transform the world as we know it. This, in itself, is not bad. However, hiding this transformation is. Because when a transformation happens, especially at systemic levels, it is always the people who are the most vulnerable that suffer the most from it. Think about the older friend who might not be the most tech savvy and how they struggle for inclusion on Facebook and WhatsApp messages. Pay some attention to people who did not understand the public nature of LinkedIn and ended up getting fired because they wrote about their current work conditions and the desire to change them. And, similarly, do think if the people who are being pushed into these digital ecosystems without adequate digital literacy, care and information about the consequences of their actions, are being made vulnerable in their access to resources of life and dignity.
Whether you and I like Aadhaar or not is not really the question. 

The question is not about the right to privacy either. What is at stake in this deployment of Aadhaar is a government that is pushing radical transformations of the life of its citizens without consulting with them and addressing their needs. In the past, when governments have done this, we have developed strong voices of protest and correction asking the state to be responsible towards those affected by the transformation. The reliance on the digital, however, allows these governments to escape this responsibility and, in the guise of description, are making prescriptions of reality which need to be resisted.
Nishant Shah is a professor of new media and the co-founder of The Centre for Internet & Society, Bangalore.

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