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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Saturday, April 8, 2017

11000 - It’s the technology, stupid - Hindu Businessline




SUNIL ABRAHAM


Eleven reasons why the Aadhaar is not just non-smart but also insecure

Aadhaar is insecure because it is based on biometrics. Biometrics is surveillance technology, a necessity for any State. However, surveillance is much like salt in cooking: essential in tiny quantities, but counterproductive even if slightly in excess. Biometrics should be used for targeted surveillance, but this technology should not be used in e-governance for the following reasons:

One, biometrics is becoming a remote technology. High-resolution cameras allow malicious actors to steal fingerprints and iris images from unsuspecting people. In a couple of years, governments will be able to identify citizens more accurately in a crowd with iris recognition than the current generation of facial recognition technology.
Two, biometrics is covert technology. Thanks to sophisticated remote sensors, biometrics can be harvested without the knowledge of the citizen. This increases effectiveness from a surveillance perspective, but diminishes it from an e-governance perspective.
Three, biometrics is non-consensual technology. There is a big difference between the State identifying citizens and citizens identifying themselves to the state. With biometrics, the State can identify citizens without seeking their consent. With a smart card, the citizen has to allow the State to identify them. Once you discard your smart card the State cannot easily identify you, but you cannot discard your biometrics.
Four, biometrics is very similar to symmetric cryptography. Modern cryptography is asymmetric. Where there is both a public and a private key, the user always has the private key, which is never in transit and, therefore, intermediaries cannot intercept it. Biometrics, on the other hand, needs to be secured during transit. The UIDAI’s (Unique Identification Authority of India overseeing the rollout of Aadhaar) current fix for its erroneous choice of technology is the use of “registered devices”; but, unfortunately, the encryption is only at the software layer and cannot prevent hardware interception.
Five, biometrics requires a centralised network; in contrast, cryptography for smart cards does not require a centralised store for all private keys. All centralised stores are honey pots — targeted by criminals, foreign States and terrorists.
Six, biometrics is irrevocable. Once compromised, it cannot be secured again. Smart cards are based on asymmetric cryptography, which even the UIDAI uses to secure its servers from attacks. If cryptography is good for the State, then surely it is good for the citizen too.
Seven, biometrics is based on probability. Cryptography in smart cards, on the other hand, allows for exact matching. Every biometric device comes with ratios for false positives and false negatives. These ratios are determined in near-perfect lab conditions. Going by press reports and even UIDAI’s claims, the field reality is unsurprisingly different from the lab. Imagine going to an ATM and not being sure if your debit card will match your bank’s records.
Eight, biometric technology is proprietary and opaque. You cannot independently audit the proprietary technology used by the UIDAI for effectiveness and security. On the other hand, open smart card standards like SCOSTA (Smart Card Operating System for Transport Applications) are based on globally accepted cryptographic standards and allow researchers, scientists and mathematicians to independently confirm the claims of the government.
Nine, biometrics is cheap and easy to defeat. Any Indian citizen, even children, can make gummy fingers at home using Fevicol and wax. You can buy fingerprint lifting kits from a toystore. To clone a smart card, on the other hand, you need a skimmer, a printer and knowledge of cryptography.
Ten, biometrics undermines human dignity. In many media photographs — even on the @UIDAI’s Twitter stream — you can see the biometric device operator pressing the applicant’s fingers, especially in the case of underprivileged citizens, against the reader. Imagine service providers — say, a shopkeeper or a restaurant waiter — having to touch you every time you want to pay. Smart cards offer a more dignified user experience.
Eleven, biometrics enables the shirking of responsibility, while cryptography requires a chain of trust.
Each legitimate transaction has repudiable signatures of all parties responsible. With biometrics, the buck will be passed to an inscrutable black box every time things go wrong. The citizens or courts will have nobody to hold to account.
The precursor to Aadhaar was called MNIC (Multipurpose National Identification Card). Initiated by the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it was based on the open SCOSTA standard. This was the correct technological choice.
Unfortunately, the promoters of Aadhaar chose biometrics in their belief that newer, costlier and complex technology is superior to an older, cheaper and simpler alternative.
This erroneous technological choice is not a glitch or teething problem that can be dealt with legislative fixes such as an improved Aadhaar Act or an omnibus Privacy Act. It can only be fixed by destroying the centralised biometric database, like the UK did, and shifting to smart cards.
In other words, you cannot fix using the law what you have broken using technology.
Sunil Abraham is Executive Director, Centre for Internet and Society

(This article was published on March 31, 2017)