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 15, 2017

11048 - And When Will We Need An Aadhaar To Use A Public Toilet? Unique Id’s Use And Abuse - Swarajya



- Apr 13, 2017, 12:05 pm

SNAPSHOT

There is a thin line separating the intelligent use of Aadhaar from unintelligent ones.
This government seems to be about to cross this line. It will come to grief if this overuse forces the courts to clamp down on Aadhaar where its use becomes limited.

It is obvious that the Narendra Modi government wants Aadhaar to be the universal means of identification in India. Nothing wrong in that per se, but Aadhaar’s rapid extension to almost every aspect of life is disconcerting – and a recipe for abuse. There is no better way to build resistance to a good idea than by shoving it down people’s throats using executive fiat.
Make no mistake, Aadhaar is probably one of the best technology-driven innovations in India since Independence, but its overuse can lead to negative consequences, especially when privacy protections are meagre and the government is pushing it too hard in too many places. Its best hope for super success is to make it largely voluntary, but make it so easy to use that it become widely used.

For example, if the idea is to link tax returns to a unique ID, what stops the government from incentivising this by offering, say, a Rs 500 tax rebate for any Aadhaar seeding? Why threaten taxpayers with mayhem if such-and-such a seeding is not done by such-and-such a date?

While one can justify the use of Aadhaar to weed out people with multiple Pan numbers, or even for seeding bank accounts with this number, its mindless extension to mid-day meals for children, for buying crop insurance, for airport staff, for giving benefits to disabled children, or even buying railway tickets through the IRCTC platform is overkill. And we haven’t even listed all the schemes for which Aadhaar is mandated (read here for a peek into the uses it is already being put to). Soon it may become mandatory for obtaining a job, getting married, registering births and deaths, buying property, etc. Aadhaar has become a kind of internal passport and super document that is truly scary. One wonders when we will have to quote Aadhaar to use public toilets.

The funny thing is that the Supreme Court has made Aadhaar non-mandatory for the delivery of public services (where it should be mandatory at some point, once Aadhaar identification failure rates become minuscule), but has no problems allowing the government to use it for many other purposes, including the filing of tax returns, where privacy concerns and the potential for misuse of information are real.

It is not as if this is about inflicting Aadhaar on the poor and sparing the rich. What is really happening is this: Aadhaar is being over-used out of sheer laziness, for it is not as if the information now sought to be collected (to address tax evasion, or misappropriation of subsidies) cannot be obtained otherwise.

Consider how a Google would do it. Google has more information on all of us largely by making its products easy to use. Whether it is search or mail or maps or its storage drive, by making facilities available for free, it collects information that would surprise most users if only they begin to think about it.
By triangulating data points – for example, your computer IP address, with your mobile phone number, and your use of maps, or your search tendencies – Google can hold you to ransom but for the privacy protections it guarantees. Your data is essentially in the hands of a private player, and Google knows your address, your frequent places, your travel dates, and, possibly, the colour of your undergarments, since you may have searched for lingerie on your partner’s birthday. Facebook knows the same details, too. As does Amazon.

Tonnes of data are available with banks, card issuing companies, e-wallets, e-commerce sites, et al. They know how much you earn, what you buy, where you have dinner, and how often you travel by air. That they may not be using the data better for improving their own business potential speaks more about the nascent state of big data analysis in India, but the point is this: what Google can do, the government of India can do even more easily, for it also has the power to impose a rule.
While this government has begun using technology more efficiently than any previous one – the decision to keep taxman-taxpayer interactions to the online mode is one such innovation – it is still not using the data it already has to get what it wants. Hence the lurch towards using Aadhaar for everything. It offers a kind of short-cut to ferret out data by forcing people to conform, and will be counter-productive in the long run. Reason: you now know that Aadhaar is about gathering data about you to figure out if you are evading taxes.

A sensible government will extract the data it needs – whether for smoking out tax evaders or national security risks – by using technology well. Nothing stops the Modi government from hiring a planeload or techies, from India and Silicon Valley, to create software and algorithms to identify issues of interest to it.
It does not require an Aadhaar to get the information it needs. By extending Aadhaar to every possible area, it is making this data available to more and more private parties, where abuse of privacy is likely to be more likely.

It hardly needs reiteration that privacy protection needs to be more robust. But that is another story. The point of this story is that there is a thin line separating the intelligent use of Aadhaar from unintelligent ones. This government seems to be about to cross this line. It will come to grief if this overuse forces the courts to clamp down on Aadhaar where its use becomes limited.