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 13, 2017

11030 - Aadhaar debate is widely off the mark; everybody is undermining its very objective - First Post

SeethaApr, 12 2017 12:20:15 IST

In December, the satire website Faking News had carried a spoof about Aadhaar becoming compulsory for buying vegetables in Delhi. Everybody had a good laugh.

Four months on, it doesn’t seem so implausible. A government obsessed with Aadhaar is ensuring that it gets linked with more and more transactions. The latest is that quoting Aadhaar will become compulsory for buying air tickets and for downloading maps from the Survey of India site as well. Between the time of writing this article and it getting uploaded, it is quite possible that Aadhaar could be made mandatory in a few more areas.

This march of Aadhaar is deeply problematic for two reasons. One, it goes against the stated goals of the statute that gives it legal sanctity. The preamble to the Aadhaar (Targetted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 says it is “an Act to provide for, as a good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services, the expenditure for which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India, to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto” (emphasis added).

                               Reuters
What is the expenditure incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India on airline tickets, railway tickets, sim cards for mobile phone connections and bank accounts?

The government and those defending this Aadhaar over-reach will point to Section 57 of the Act which says that the Aadhaar number can be used “for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose, whether by the State or any body corporate or person”.

This is a provision that the present government not only introduced (it was not there in the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had tabled) but also retained, overriding the amendment proposed by the Rajya Sabha to delete it. (This was among the five amendments moved by Congress MP Jairam Ramesh).

The Supreme Court, too, unfortunately is going along with this over-reach. First, in February, it directed the linking of all mobile numbers to Aadhaar within a year. Then, in March, it said Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for welfare schemes but could be used for “non-benefit” transactions like opening a bank account or filing income tax returns. Now this is really standing the original idea of Aadhaar on its head.

Remember the genesis of a unique identity number during the UPA tenure was for better targeting of subsidies. The task force headed by Nandan Nilekani, which suggested this, related to direct transfer of subsidies. This was supposed to be the fool-proof way of ensuring that a benefit meant for A does not go to B. To say that Aadhaar will not be compulsory for accessing welfare benefits is to revert to the earlier leaky, corrupt welfare regime.

Unfortunately, this distortion of the idea of Aadhaar did not figure in the Rajya Sabha debate on the issue on April 10. Ramesh and several other MPs, on the other hand, slammed the government for making Aadhaar mandatory for welfare benefits. Ramesh went so far as to say that Aadhaar is becoming an instrument of exclusion rather than identity.

Both he and Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress cited several instances where people had been denied welfare because of lack of Aadhaar. What they did not specify was how many of those who had ostensibly been denied benefits were genuine beneficiaries and how many of those weeded out were either duplicate or ghost beneficiaries. For politicians who know the ground reality far better than anyone else to overlook the enormous corruption/leakage in delivering welfare and to rail against what is now the only fool-proof way of improving targeting is inexcusable. Ghost students enrolled in schools for mid-day meals is an undeniable reality.

As BJP MP L. Ganeshan pointed out, they should then answer the question – what is the remedy? If Aadhaar is not to be used to curb leakage, what is the alternative? Surely, they cannot be arguing for reverting to the old system? In any case, the Aadhaar Act itself has a provision that no one will be denied a benefit for want of an Aadhaar number and that an alternative identity proof would be considered valid. Politicians, well, play politics, but surely the Supreme Court should take a more informed and nuanced position on this?

That said, there are issues with the implementation of Aadhaar as a targeting tool and MPs were right to point this out – people haven’t got numbers, verification of biometrics is a problem because of internet/mobile connectivity, finger-print and iris scan are a problem in the case of manual workers and senior citizens. These need to be addressed and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad promised to look into these issues when replying to the debate. This should not be an empty assurance.

The second reason that the over-reach of Aadhaar is problematic is concerns relating to privacy. The government has been quick to pooh-pooh these concerns, as did Prasad in Parliament, pointing to how secure the biometrics database is and the stiff penalties for any violation of processes relating to collection, storage and use of biometric data. Nandan Nilekani has also put up a strong defence of the privacy and security protocols around Aadhaar.

But even if we accept that the biometric data stored with the Unique Identification Authority of India is secure in a fool-proof way, that still does not eliminate the danger of identity theft when Aadhaar is becoming ubiquitous and even being sought as identity proof by private parties.

The government’s defence on this count has bordered on the non-serious at times. Finance minister Arun Jaitley, when replying to his predecessor P. Chidambaram during the debate on the Finance Bill, had said that even the Pentagon was hacked without Aadhaar. Nilekani has often said that the UIDAI does not collect anything more than basic information about name, address, gender and date of birth, a point Prasad reiterated.

The point is not what information UIDAI has collected. The point is that if Aadhaar is used for practically every activity of an individual – from bank accounts to air tickets to mobile phone connections – the Aadhaar number is available to that many agencies. UIDAI may have strict protocols about use of biometrics and data, but do the host of agencies using Aadhaar have any protocols at all about security of application forms that may have an Aadhaar number? It will be quite possible for Aadhaar numbers of individuals to be sold as a database (as phone numbers, bank account numbers and credit card numbers are) and then be used by unscrupulous elements to get financial and other information about an individual, without hacking into or getting unauthorised access to the UIDAI database. Are databases of banks as secure as that of the UIDAI? As MP K.T.S. Tulsi pithily said during the debate, “the safety of information is in jeopardy if the use is extended”.
Unfortunately, apart from Tulsi and Rajeev Chandrashekhar, who initiated the debate, other MPs were more focussed on ending mandatory Aadhaar for welfare. It is time to restore the original purpose of Aadhaar (improved targeting of welfare) and junk the add-on purpose of becoming mandatory for everything else, which brings other problems in its wake.



Published Date: Apr 12, 2017 12:20 pm | Updated Date: Apr 12, 2017 12:20 pm