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

10977 - Aadhaar a definite step forward despite security concerns: - Business Standard

Technology alone is not the point, India needs to focus on the impact of Aadhaar access and usage
Khalid Anzar  |  New Delhi 
April 4, 2017 Last Updated at 01:11 IST

Soumitra Dutta, founding Dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University

“India cannot escape the digital revolution,” says SOUMITRA DUTTA, founding dean of Cornell SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University, a well-known economist and the co-editor and author of two influential reports on technology and innovation — the Global Information Technology Report (co-published with the World Economic Forum) and the Global Innovation Index. Both reports have been used by several governments around the world to assess and plan their technology and innovation policies. Digital India has to be the way forward for the country, and one should move beyond technology to assess the impact of the government’s move, Dutta tells Khalid Anzar in an interview. Edited excerpts:

There is a lot of buzz around ‘Digital India’ these days. Are we, in your view, ready to move towards a digital economy?

India has no choice but to be ready to be a digital economy. Digital India has to be the way for the future. There are three aspects to understanding what a digital economy means. The first one is readiness: How prepared we are for the digital economy. This includes issues of infrastructure – does the infrastructure actually exist, and do people have the correct skills to use computers and the internet?


Then second aspect is ‘usage’, which revolves around how people use digital technologies and to what extent. Some of the questions involved here are whether computers are available for children in schools? Do small businesses have access to digital technology? And to what extent do large businesses use such technologies?

The third, and the most important, aspect is ‘impact’. We need to look at the actual outcome of the access to and usage of such technologies. For example, if you have technology (computers) in schools, does it actually mean children have better learning outcomes? Or, are children better prepared when they actually graduate? Does it translate into greater business competitiveness?

If you think of Digital India in terms of readiness, usage and impact, you start understanding that you have to work on all these dimensions for key stakeholders — private citizens, businesses and the government. All these three stakeholders should be working on all the three dimensions — readiness, usage and impact.

What is the current technology landscape in the country and is it enough to move towards a digital economy?

On the technology side, despite making progress, clearly we are not at the leading edge. We have to make progress in most areas. By progress, I don’t only mean hardware or software but also the people. People do not have the education and basic skills to use digital technology. Therefore, it is very important to be able to invest in hardware, software and people.

There is a lot of progress that has been made. We are in a much better position than we were 10 years ago. However, what is the benchmark? Is it where India was 10 years ago or is it where China and other leading countries like Finland or Estonia are today?

If we look at the leading benchmark, we are still lagging. However, we appear to be making a swift progress.

Is there a blueprint which the government could use to catch up in the areas that need attention and improvement? How can we compete with the leading countries?

There is a report which I produced in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, ‘The Global Information Technology Report’. In this report, we have a whole model called the ‘networked readiness index’ that actually provides a framework for formulating the technology policy for a country.

The technology policy of a country cannot be limited to the sale of spectrum or issues related to bandwidth. Instead, it must look at the political and social environment, skills possessed by the common people, and the whole issue of impact.

In fact, I have created similar frameworks for some governments using research based on the networked readiness index. I think that would be a good framework for India to follow.

Is the Indian government using any such framework to fast-track digitisation?

Of course, India was one of the first countries to have a ministry of information technology. A lot of good progress has been made. However, technology alone is not the outcome. Instead, the outcome should be the impact.

There is a dark side to technology as well — security. How ready are we to address such issues?

Security and privacy are very difficult issues. There are no good solutions to them anywhere in the world. This is because of the way technology is developing. You have to have this balance between security, trust, privacy and access.

Certainly, in an environment where national security has been the top priority, many governments have found good reasons to actually control and increase that dominance on security elements.

If you look at the literature before this focus on national security began, the general view centred around increasing the set of tools the people would have at their disposal. The general theory was that people would have more control over their own privacy.

In reality, in the past 10 years, the theory has been turned on its head. People are losing control of their privacy and the kind of tools people thought they would have for their privacy are actually broken into routinely, often by governments. There are many cases where governments around the world routinely ask account providers and application providers to release data for national security purposes.

Therefore, the view that we initially had of the internet – that people would be able to access all information freely and that they would have more control over their privacy, is in fact moving in the other direction. In truth, people are losing access and they do not have complete freedom and access to information.

If we take Aadhaar for an example with regard to security and privacy, do you think it is a step forward? Also, do you think Aadhaar is safe?

Aadhaar is definitely a move forward; there is no question about that. You need it to help provide efficient government services. Leaving aside any privacy and security concerns for a moment, India is a country that needs to have efficient government services. Without Aadhaar, it would be very difficult to put in place many basic services. It would also make it more difficult to digitise government services, and allow the providers to interact with citizens. Otherwise, there are all kinds of frauds and corruption in the system.

Aadhaar is a necessity and a positive thing. That is one reason why the Narendra Modi government has retained it. However, safety is an important issue; cyber threats are widespread. In principle, everything can be hacked. There is a huge issue of safety of records of financial transactions, medical transactions and other personal data that are on the web. I hope the government is taking the best precautions possible to try and safeguard security.

There is always a risk in technology. The benefits of Aadhaar far outweigh the risks in my view.

The core technology used in Aadhaar is to identify individuals based on their biometrics and retina scans. These are identities unique to every individual. While debit or credit cards can be replaced and passwords reset, how will you weigh the risk of putting unique identity of the citizens – biometrics and retina – out there for people to gain access to?

The biometric safeguards are becoming increasingly common. Increasingly, biometric information is being used in higher security applications. So, there is indeed a risk and there is no question about that. But the question here is what sort of a balance is there between risk and benefits.