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 12, 2017

11022 - Rajya Sabha Debates Aadhaar Ecosystem - Bloomberg Quint


April 10, 2017, 8:04 pm

Aadhaar Neither Mandatory For Benefits, Nor Will Invade Privacy: Law And IT Minister
Minister of Law, Justice, and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad tried to quell voices raised against Aadhaar in his concluding statements.

Prasad said that Aadhaar will not be mandatory to receiving welfare benefits. Alternate identity proofs such as a passport or a driving license can be used, he added.

No poor shall be denied his subsidy rights. We will only say come on Aadhaar.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister Of Law, Justice, and Information Technology

He argued that with Aadhar the misuse of subsidies can be addressed. Prasad claimed that these benefits of people in rural areas were claimed by village heads, and Aadhar solves the problem.
Prasad proclaimed that Aadhaar, and its data is completely safe. He distinguished between core biometrics and demographic information which are defined in the act. He added that no religion, income, medical history, ethnicity or education is being profiled, hence making Aadhaar foolproof.
Only minimum information from the Aadhaar system will be utilised for verification, Prasad clarified.
The government has been blacklisting operators that share data from the Aadhaar system. It has blacklisted 34,000 operators, and has taken action against 1,000 of them, the minister stated.
Prasad set addressing infrastructure issues as the first priority with Aadhaar. He also said that the UIDAI will be accountable to the parliament.

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10:01:38 pm
World Bank Says Aadhaar Better Than U.S.' Social Security System: Pratap Shukla

Uttar Pradesh parliamentarian Pratap Shukla cited a World Bank report, saying that it had called it more secure than the social security system of U.S.

Loopholes exist in all systems, but those loopholes are used to make it better, he said. He added that the government will ensure everyone's privacy, and that more subsidies should be linked to Aadhaar.

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09:53:33 pm
Address Infrastructure Issues First: V Vijaysai Reddy
Only 27 percent of villages have banking facilities within 5 kilometers, hence the government should address infrastructure issues before proceeding with Aadhaar, said V. Vijaysai Reddy of YSR Congress Party from Andhra Pradesh.
The average state preparedness for Aadhaar is 12 percent, while for some it is still zero, he said adding that the biometrics based systems suffer from infrastructure issues.
Reddy questioned why the act prevents the aggrieved from going to court.
He praised some aspects of Aadhaar, such as the its linking with the Permanent Account Number (PAN) card. This, he said, was justified to mitigate the generation of black money and duplicate PAN cards.

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09:21:21 pm
Firm That Built Aadhaar Was Funded By CIA, Says D Raja
Communist Party leader D Raja again raised concerns about MongoDB, the New York based startup that UIDAI signed a contract with for capturing and analysing data in Aadhaar.
Raja had earlier questioned the firms' security when UPA was in power and had introduced the Aadhaar card.
The contract raises eyebrows as MongoDB is part funded by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Raja questioned representatives of BJP and UPA that if such data was safe with a foreign company.
Think on this issue and ensure that the privacy of our citizens is not compromised.

D Raja, National Secretary, Communist Party of India
Raja, who does not have an Aadhaar card, said that it cannot be thought of as a universal wand for all problems. He argued that its scientifically proven that biometrics change after a certain age and hence in such cases citizens would be deprived of social services.

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09:04:01 pm
Aadhaar Greatest Mutilation I've Come Across, Says Supreme Court Advocate
The Aadhaar Act is in violation of the original mandate with which it was brought into force, said parliamentarian and Supreme Court advocate K.T.S. Tulsi . He referred to Section 29 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, which doesn't permit any data stored with UIDAI to be shared with anyone whatsoever.

Later, he added, a provision was made for voluntary agreement to allow the sharing of data.
Basically, if you don’t agree to share this information, you won’t get benefits.

K.T.S. Tulsi, Advocate, Supreme Court
The Supreme Court lawyer cited the scrapping of Australia's social service access card project in 2007, where the government concluded it was very difficult to protect such data. He also referred to the positions of U.K. and France on similar systems.

Tulsi called the Aadhaar database a “heaven for hackers”. He added that national security is threatened too with China and Pakistan as neighbours if such data is made readily available.

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08:35:44 pm
Aadhaar Hurting The Marginalised: Derek O'Brien
Trinamool Congress member and popular quiz show host Derek O'Brein argued that the marginalised section of the society are being hurt most by the implementation of Aadhar.
O'Brien said that for workers indulged in manual labour, biometrics do not always accurately match and that could deprive them of welfare.

He cited Andhra Pradesh's instance from 2014, where almost half of 85,000 ration card holders where not able to get their subsidised food grains under PDS, due to issues ranging from faulty point of sale machines to biometrics not matching.
O'Brien also criticised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having called Aadhaar a "gimmick" as opposition, and then making it mandatory for various schemes when he is in power.

Privacy is too invaded by Aadhaar, O'Brien argued. He also raised concerns about the body to whom the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was answerable.
O'Brien said that 21 databases are being proposed to be linked with Aadhaar, which means a lot of private data would be put out in public. This could also result in data being sold for cheap and hence further misuse, he added.

The West Bengal parliamentarian called the Aadhaar debate a deflection from bigger more serious issues such as investments, bank credit and jobs.

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08:19:50 pm
Government Wants To Control Social Behaviour: Ravi Prasad Verma
The government tried to control economic behaviour by forcing people to go cashless, but now it is trying to control social behaviour with the Aadhaar, said Samajwadi Party parliamentarian Ravi Prasad Verma.

The only thing left now, an agitated Verma added, was for the government to add a 'chip' in everyone's brains to find out what they think.

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07:52:11 pm
Opposition Indulging In Politics Of Paranoia, Says BJP Vice President
Bharatiya Janata Party vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said that the opposition is creating paranoia among citizens, which is needs to be stopped. The parliamentarian blamed various lobbies for opposing Aadhaar, and creating fear around it.

Why are people opposing Aadhaar? There is an ATM lobby, hawala lobby and PDS lobby that is opposing it. We need to be careful.
Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe, Vice-President, BJP
He downplayed concerns around privacy issues with the biometrics and identity. “Please don’t throw the baby with the bathwater,” he added.

He argued that it was not the UPA government but his party’s senior leader Lal Krishna Advani that had laid the foundation for the Aadhaar ecosystem. Countering Jairam Ramesh’s claims on Aadhaar savings, Sahsrabuddhe said that the total savings in the last five years due to its implementation was Rs 17,360 crore.

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07:37:18 pm
Aadhaar Becoming An Instrument Of Exclusion: Jairam Ramesh
Congress leader and economist Jairam Ramesh was worried by the implementation of Aadhaar on welfare schemes such as Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Public Distribution System and midday meals.

He claimed that the Aadhaar system is instead becoming an instrument of social exclusion. Ramesh pegged that over 25 percent of the population will be excluded due to Aadhar implementation.

If you need to apply to avail benefits, it’s as good as mandatory

Jairam Ramesh, Indian National Congress
Ramesh questioned if fraudulent children were being fed in schools, that the government had to make Aadhaar mandatory for the midday meals scheme.
He also raised doubts over the figures given by the government for savings it made by making Aadhaar mandatory for availing gas subsidy. Ramesh said the savings were due to the fall in oil prices, not Aadhaar implementation.

Ramesh also criticised the government for making the Aadhaar project of its own, saying that the United Progressive Alliance government was the one which introduced it.

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07:21:35 pm
Aadhar Debate Underway; Opposition Questions Government's Claims
The Rajya Sabha on Monday witnessed a fiery debate around India’s biometric ID Aadhaar as the opposition questioned the government's move to make the unique identification (UID) number mandatory for a host of welfare benefits.
The debate, started by Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, revolved around claims of savings made through Aadhaar in the public distribution system and direct benefit transfers.

Congress’ Jairam Ramesh said the government’s claim of savings in the direct benefit transfer due to Aadhaar are highly suspect. Weeding out started before Aadhaar came in and those savings are now being counted as contributed by Aadhaar, he said.

BloombergQuint