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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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

11280 - Privacy, Security and the Supreme Court: An Aadhaar Starter Kit - The Quint

Arguments in the SC have delved into not just Aadhaar, but also privacy in India, civil liberties and democratic rights. (Photo Courtesy: Liju Joseph/The Quint)
 
| 5 min read
“Even if you want to be forgotten, the state is not willing to forget you.”

That’s what Mukul Rohatgi, Attorney General of India, argued in the Supreme Court during the hearing of several petitions which challenge amendments made to Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act. These amendments, which were passed with the Finance Bill, 2017 make Aadhaar mandatory for PAN cards and filing IT returns.

For six days, the Supreme Court bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan has been witness to an important debate in contemporary India. The arguments put forth by the Centre and Senior Advocates Shyam Divan and Arvind Datar have delved into not just issues pertaining to Aadhaar, but also privacy in India, civil liberties, democratic rights and constitutional freedoms.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/Mayank Jain)
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/Mayank Jain)

The Aadhaar Starter Kit


Perspectives on Aadhaar depend on who you’re talking to.

With every stakeholder, a different clutch of arguments emerge on Aadhaar dealing with security, welfare schemes, role of governments, privacy, surveillance and development. Here are the main stakeholders you should know about:

1. UIDAI


The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was established as a statutory authority under the Aadhaar Act, 2016. An attached office of the erstwhile Planning Commission before 2016, UIDAI is responsible for collecting the biometric and demographic data which is required to enrol as a part of the 12-digit unique identity number.


2. Civil Society


Sections of the civil society have been vocal critics of Aadhaar, raising concerns over it being a surveillance tool, potential invasion of privacy and linking of databases making personal data vulnerable. On the other hand, some argue that critics of Aadhaar should differentiate between Aadhaar the technological tool and Aadhaar the government policy backed by legislation


Also Read: Your Aadhaar Data Is Now With Private Companies As Well

3. Government


The role of the government in the Aadhaar debate can be understood through executive orders which make Aadhaar mandatory for a slew of welfare services, including pension fund benefits, mid-day meals and cash rewards.

Passing of the Finance Bill, 2017, which makes Aadhaar mandatory for PAN card and filing IT returns, is the most significant shift from voluntary Aadhaar to making it mandatory. Furthermore, the passage of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 and all its inherent issues could also be understood as a part of the government’s role in the Aadhaar ecosystem.


So, Is Aadhaar Compulsory or Voluntary?

That’s the question at the heart of the Aadhaar debate.

The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 was introduced in the Parliament by UPA-II. The Lok Sabha Standing Committee on Finance had cited UK’s failure to implement a mandatory ID project and raised concerns over Aadhaar’s security. In reply, the government had said: “Aadhaar number is not mandatory.”

In 2015, the Supreme Court stated that “it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card” and that “production of an Aadhaar will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.”

However, with the Finance Bill, 2017 amendment, being enrolled in Aadhaar has been made compulsory for filing IT returns and obtaining a PAN card. Unlike specific and optional welfare benefits for which Aadhaar was made mandatory, an Indian citizen is legally bound to file IT returns. Which effectively means that a lack of an Aadhaar card makes a citizen a criminal.

The recent Supreme Court (SC) case challenges the amendment to the Income Tax Act which makes Aadhaar mandatory, with the question about whether Aadhaar is mandatory or compulsory at the centre.


Also Read: Aadhaar Act, 2016 Should be Amended to Improve Cybersecurity


Is There a Legislation on Aadhaar?

The Aadhaar Act, 2016 or the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 is the legal framework within which Aadhaar is implemented.

Section 29 of the Act limits the sharing and publishing of core biometric information collected and states that “no Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations.”

But the Act has one significant problem.
The Act states that no information collected under Aadhaar will be disclosed except in “interest of national security in pursuance of a direction of an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India specially authorised in this behalf by an order of the Central Government.” However, the Act doesn’t specify ‘national security.’

Is the Aadhaar Database Safe?

Recently, the Centre for Internet Society (CIS) reported that nearly 13 crore Aadhar numbers were vulnerable and compromised. This has been the latest in a line of#AadhaarLeaks, with reports of government departments publishing Aadhar numbers.

However, in terms of the Aadhaar database being vulnerable, there’s very little clarity on whether UIDAI only stores authentication logs or if there’s other specific metadata which is also stored.

The UIDAI argues that there’s no central database which stores the biometric and demographic data collected under Aadhar. On the other hand, critics of Aadhar say that linking of PAN (and other databases) with Aadhaar will make individual databases vulnerable to hacking.

Also Read: In Defence Of Aadhaar – Nandan Nilekani

If I Have an Aadhaar, Can I Opt Out?

According to the UIDAI website, once a citizen is enrolled in Aadhaar, there’s no provision for his/her information to be deleted.

Or, as Mukul Rohatgi said in the Supreme Court, the citizen has no “right to be forgotten”. Interestingly, Rohatgi also argued that citizens can’t refuse to give their fingerprints and iris scans for Aadhaar enrollment and don’t have “absolute right over their bodies”.

Also Read: Aadhaar Case: Beyond Privacy, An Issue of Bodily Integrity

So, What’s Happening Now?

“The sacrosanctness of the Supreme Court judgment must be protected.”

That’s what Senior Counsel Arvind Datar, arguing for the petitioners, told the Supreme Court bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan. Datar was referring to Supreme Court’s statement in 2015 when it stated that “it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card.”
As the SC reserves its judgement, what remains to be seen is whether the Court reverses its decision or upholds its earlier judgement.