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.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

11261 - Is India's Aadhaar System an Instrument For Surveillance? - Global Voices


Posted 5 May 2017 7:37 GMT 

Taking fingerprints for Aadhaar, photo via Wikimedia Commons, by Kannanshanmugham. CC BY 3.0

The first part of this report talked about the background and the security concerns with Aadhaar, the unique ID database of India, the largest of its kind in the world.

As questions emerge around flawed security measures being used to protect India's digital ID database, government authorities are defending the system — and even taking action against those who are revealing its flaws.

Developed by the Union government of India in 2009, the plan called for the creation a Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that would issue Unique Identity numbers (UIDs) to all residents of India. Under this scheme, now known as Aadhaar (which means “foundation” or “base” in Hindi), the UID number ties together several pieces of a person's demographic and biometric information, including their photograph, ten fingerprints and an image of their iris. This information is all stored in a centralized database. According to the UIDAI, a UID is meant to be “robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and can be verified and authenticated in an easy, cost-effective way.”

The scheme has so far enrolled 1.13 billion Indians and residents of India, making it the largest biometric database in the world.

In a 2016 report entitled Digital Dividends, the World Bank included “digital identity” among the four so-called digital enablers for development. With strong identification systems, the report's authors argue, it is possible to “deliver vital services to people, govern effectively, eliminate duplicative or inefficient programs, make efficient use of limited resources, and produce statistics accurately.”

But thus far, India's Aadhaar system has not achieved these aims and has in some cases increased obstacles for citizens seeking to take advantage of basic public services, such as food subsidies. The system also has not actually reached all Indians: A Right to Information (RTI) application filed by Ujjainee Sharma and Trishna Senapaty revealed that as of June 2015, 0.03 per cent of all Aadhaar numbers issued were to people without any pre-existing identification documents. The applicants suspect that the total number of residents of India who do not possess ID numbers is much higher.

Authorities take action against critics, researchers
Apart from challenges of outreach, data mismanagement and machine errors, recent events have proven that Aadhaar numbers can be easily disclosed, posted online and used for malicious purposes. On May 1, researchers at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore reported that an estimated 135 million Aadhaar numbers had been leaked online from four separate government databases.

While the government has warned that publishing UID data on portals can lead to three years imprisonment, a rule that likely deters some from posting UID numbers online, those reporting security flaws have also faced consequences.

When Skoch Group chairperson Sameer Kocchar showed in a February 2017 video blog post how the UID can be hacked, the UIDAI responded by accusing him of violating Section 37 of the Aadhaar Act.

Section 37 says,”Whoever, intentionally discloses, transmits, copies or otherwise disseminates any identity information collected in the course of enrollment or authentication to any person not authorized under this Act or regulations made thereunder or in contravention of any agreement or arrangement entered into pursuant to the provisions of this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with a fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or, in the case of a company, with a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.”

In another incident, a case was filed against a journalist who showed on television how it was possible to obtain two separate UID numbers. To further complicate the issue, one may never know if their data has been breached, as the UIDAI refuses to disclose this type of information through Right to Information requests.

On Twitter, multiple users have tagged the @ceo_uidai and @uidai on relevant tweets, raising alarms against potential misuse of biometrics and leaks of UID data. But the Twitter handles of some of those who voiced the criticism have been blocked by government accounts. In responding to a subsequent RTI application asking the UIDAI whether they have banned anyone from their Twitter accounts, officials claimed otherwise.

A tool for surveillance?
Another concern of privacy and security experts is that UID can be used as a tool for mass surveillance by government or other actors.
Various government spokespersons maintain that UIDAI collects minimal information. While that is true, services based on UID collect more than minimal information. @kingslyj provides an example of two state government entities that do precisely that:

@pranesh Look at the difference in Aadhaar application forms between Karnataka -
and Kerala -

he tool may also be further developed to collect more information in the future. Revelations by legislative researcher Meghnad from a debate in the Lower House of the Parliament earlier in 2017 indicated that DNA data might one day be included:

Fun Fact: when asked whether DNA would be a part of Biometric data collection in #Aadhaar, the FM said they might do so in the future.
Fun Fact: when asked whether DNA would be a part of Biometric data collection in #Aadhaar, the FM said they might do so in the future.
Centre for Internet and Society Executive Director Sunil Abraham has openly described Aadhaar as a surveillance tool:

Repeat after me: Aadhaar is surveillance technology masquerading as secure authentication technology.
Multiple national experts on law, privacy and technology have raised concern about the program's fraud and surveillance implications. New Delhi lawyer Apar Gupta, who has argued multiple privacy-related cases before the Supreme Court, explained in an interview with BuzzFeed News:

If your data is compromised in any way, there is absolutely nowhere that you as a citizen can turn to. There are no judicial remedies built into the Aadhaar program in case of identity theft.

Some of the worst fears of Aadhaar's critics were confirmed when a private company tweeted out a picture of what they could do with UID. The tweet has been deleted, but the original image has continued to circulate online:

If you don’t understand the full import of the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, take a good look at @India_Stack
In one of seven open letters to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that was scrutinizing what was then known as the National Identification Authority of India Bill, the Centre for Internet and Society laid down the inherent problems and pitfalls of using biometrics as an instrument of authentication, offering technical recommendations intended to help avoid exploitation of the system.
Billionaire Nandan Nilekani, who is UID's main architect and the co-founder of IT company Infosys, has acknowledged that privacy regulation is an “afterthought” of innovation and that India needs strong privacy laws after claiming for years that the scheme had built-in privacy and security features. Upper House MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar did not fail to miss Nilekani's 


Views "evolve"
2015 - #Aadhaar ensures privacy by desgn ;
2016-2017 massve data leaks n breaches ;
2017 - Need a data privacy law
In the background of this ongoing debate, the Attorney General of India has argued in court that ‘privacy is not a fundamental right’ and has even referred to it as a concern of the elite or the corrupt.

It is worrying to see the government not respond adequately to concerns raised by the citizens, and even to punish those who have shed light on Aadhaar's flaws. This combined with a broad-based denial of privacy as a fundamental right gives the impression that they do not have plans to stop or even address the problems with the system.


Written by