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.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

11276 - Is your Aadhaar a safe bet? - Mid-Day


By Kusumita Das | Mumbai | Posted 07-May-2017

Viral Shah, who worked with Nandan Nilekani in rolling out Aadhaar, addresses the nation’s concern regarding how vulnerable we are making ourselves

An Aadhaar card submission queue at Hanuman Nagar, Kandivli (East)

It was a chance meeting with UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) chairman and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nileknani circa 2010, that led to Viral Shah’s brief, yet significant stint with Aadhaar. At that time, Shah, who was in the US, fresh out of his PhD. from University of California, Santa Barbara, was in India to renew his visa. His eyes were set on collaborating with MIT on a project for his post doctorate. The meeting with Nilekani, however, changed everything. Shah dropped his visa application and immersed himself in rolling out the system as we know it today. "He told me about this cool and significant system that he was working on which would change the future of the country, but he mentioned he had no salary to offer. He had an open-door policy and he was getting hundreds of applications from people who understood the kind of impact Aadhaar was going to make. I wanted to be a part of that, I must have been among the first five or 10 people in the team," says the 37-year-old, who was assigned the role of building applications for Aadhaar in financial inclusions. "I rolled out the eKYC (Know Your Customer) and the LPG, kerosene and fertiliser subsidy, of which the LPG took off in a big way." Shah worked in Aadhaar for a little over two years, till 2012, before he left to resume his original passion — scientific computing. "My job in Aadhaar was to roll out the financial inclusion part of the system, and not to run it. While economic policy is also an area of my passion, I was itching to start something of my own," says Shah, co-founder of Julia Language, a high-performance computer (programming) language.

From the time he had worked on Aadhaar, till now, the one thing that has significantly changed, he feels is the scale. "And therein lies the challenge." As the debate over how safe Aadhaar is gains steam, we ask the expert to tell us whether or not the nation’s fears are unwarranted.

Is the biometric system really safe?
The UIDAI has the least amount of data as compared to most government departments, like the Income Tax or the Election Commission. The RTO offices know more about my driving history and the public hospitals, my health records than Aadhar will ever do. Let’s not even get to the amount of data Uber and Google has about us. It is important to understand the system of federated information. It is practically impossible to put so much information on one platform. If the Income Tax department wants to link your PAN card to your Aadhaar, the data is not with Aadhar, it’s with the IT. The same applies to my driving license, where the RTO will have my data, and flight tickets, in which case, the airline will have it. It is the service provider who has the information (which they do anyway), not Aadhaar. So, if MS Dhoni’s Aadhaar is leaked, all one has is the number. For more information, one would require a court order to access individual departments, something only the police can avail of.

Why link Aadhaar to all these channels then?
That’s a wrong question to ask, in my opinion. What we should ask, instead, is why these channels are linking to Aadhaar. Because the former makes it seem like the UIDAI is collecting all the info. Yes, the benefits of linking a flight ticket to Aadhaar, needs to be made clear. Perhaps, it is to put a cap on benaami travellers. The larger question is, is my data safe with them? And that is for these channels to answer and assure. The organisations that have your data should be made accountable for their usage and safety. And, of course, the government needs to play a role in that.

                                     Viral Shah

Your take on the recent Aadhaar number leaks?
There are certain subsidy departments that are under a lot of pressure from the RTI to keep their workings transparent. They need to disclose as much as they can under the RTI act. The country is new to the conflict of revealing some information and safeguarding the rest. Yes, a leak like this should not happen, and these are the cracks that need to be fixed. It is important that people should question the government — how it’s keeping their data. But, the fear mongering needs to stop. A leak of information, in the scale people are imagining it, is impossible. Aadhaar data is collected and encrypted at source. Even the company collecting the data cannot access it once it is entered in the system. That packet is sealed forever.

Why have so many unique identification numbers?
Every number exists for a reason, be it your PAN card, passport or driver’s licence. At some level, it might seem like an overload. But, a government that is asked to create bank accounts for the poor, also gets questioned about money laundering. There is always this push and pull, and taking a step will upset the balance. But, to replace everything with Aadhaar, would be a futile and expensive exercise. What people want is a simpler interface, show the (Aadhaar) number and get their services, without having to show other ID proofs. Will that happen? I think it will. It’s a decision to be taken by government departments.