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

11288 - 5 questions for the anti-Aadhaar brigade - Your Story

8 MAY 2017

Aadhaar is a unique indigenous innovation that empowers every Indian by providing them with a secure and verifiable identity. Aadhaar is going to be the backbone of India becoming a developed country, and is receiving global acclaim from entities like Bill Gates, The Economist, the World Bank, Raoul Pal, and others.

And yet, we hear so much anti-Aadhaar news. So why would anyone oppose Aadhaar? There are people with vested interests or extreme ideology – they do not want corruption to go away, they are middlemen who have been making crores through corrupt practices, or they believe in extreme anti-state ideologies.

A long road to development and progress. (Image: ShutterStock)

Given all the benefits of Aadhaar, it’s difficult to understand their thinking! Here are 5 questions for the anti-Aadhaar brigade:

How many more years do you want India to remain a ‘developing’ nation?
India has the tag of developing nation for decades now. Everyone acknowledges that India has potential. For one reason or another, we have not reached that potential. Even Sri Lanka is all set to become a developed country very soon. This should be a wake-up call for us.
India cannot become developed without taking along the lowest strata of its citizens. Only 20 percent of government aid actually reaches them. Aadhaar helps 100 percent of the aid reach the right person through Direct Benefit Transfer, removing any scope for corruption at various levels. And this is just one aspect of the benefits of Aadhaar.
Hence the question to the anti-Aadhaar brigade, how many more years do you want India to remain a ‘developing’ nation?

Why are you silent on all the benefits we are seeing as a result of Aadhaar?
The rural women in Rajasthan are asking for Aadhaar. Aadhaar is saving the taxpayers crores of rupees. Aadhar is helping lost children get reunited with their kin. Banking facilities are reaching remote villages. Loans can be offered to people in minutes, saving them from the exorbitant rates of the local money lender. Opening bank accounts and getting SIM cards has become instantaneous and cheap. Why are you silent on all these benefits?

Why are you misleading the Indian public about Aadhaar through fear-mongering and sensationalism?
All sorts of extreme arguments around security are being made to oppose Aadhaar. However, the fact remains that Aadhaar, due to its biometric authentication, is more secure than other forms of identity, including the Social Security Number used in the United States.
People may have been alarmed by the fear-mongering and sensational reporting around some Aadhaar ‘data leaks’ or more accurately, ‘data disclosures’. In fact, people’s digital identity remains secure!
The data disclosures reveal Aadhaar numbers and demographic information. This alone cannot be used to steal your digital identity. Just as someone knowing your bank account number or debit card number, does not mean they can steal your money. And the fact remains, not a single leak of Aadhaar biometric information has been reported till date!

Why are you willing to give biometrics to foreign govts and corporations, but not to your own govt?
In today’s age, giving biometrics is a standard part of visa applications and unlocking modern smartphones! This data resides with foreign governments and corporations, Indian citizens have no control over its usage.
On the other hand, biometric information in India is only stored with UIDAI with strict protection of the law. So why is it that the anti-Aadhaar brigade is ready to give biometrics to foreign governments and corporations without any control on their use, while opposed to providing the same to the Indian government for development of the nation?

Why are you opposed to using technology to benefit the nation?
Any technology has its set of benefits and risks. For India to progress, we must embrace technology and use it in the right way. This requires a sensible discussion by all.
Bank account data, PAN data, credit card information, and user information from online accounts, etc. have all been leaked in the past or have seen frauds, yet we have not stopped using online banking, abolished the PAN system, dismantled credit cards, or disconnected from the internet.
So let us stop opposing the use of technology when it benefits the nation. Instead, let us make constructive arguments and support all efforts to improve the Aadhaar system.


(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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https://yourstory.com/2017/05/response-to-questions-by-pro-aadhaar-brigade/

This is a response to the questions raised by Ritesh Dwivedy published here called 5 questions for the anti-Aadhaar brigade. It’s also available on UIDAI website.

Same or similar questions have been asked and answered before at many venues. You probably didn’t get a chance to read them. Hence I am answering them here. I will try to keep it short and to the point.

First off, I believe the title of the article is misleading. The article is not like a question paper as the title suggests. It’s more like a ‘Guidebook to cracking IIT/JEE’. It has frequently asked questions and canned answers by the author. Maybe it’s time for the guidebook authors to look for the not-so-frequently asked questions. That would make everyone think.
Let’s start with the introduction. The author writes: “And yet, we hear so much anti-Aadhaar news. So why would anyone oppose Aadhaar? There are people with vested interests or extreme ideology – they do not want corruption to go away, they are middlemen who have been making crores through corrupt practices, or they believe in extreme anti-state ideologies.”

I started reading the article thinking it will lead to a good discussion about tech, policy, privacy, and social impact etc. But if someone starts an introduction with blaming the opposition and calling them supporters of corruption, it doesn’t instill confidence about the quality of questions. I was kind of disappointed with the questions. But then I choose to answer because it can help. Here are my responses to the questions.

“Q1: How many more years do you want India to remain a ‘developing’ nation?”
ANS: I want India to be developed country from tomorrow. There you have my answer.
Now in your canned answer, you say we can’t become a developed country without taking everyone along with us. I agree. You also suggest DBT makes 100 percent “aid” reach the right person. But you conveniently forget not every “aid” can be delivered to a bank account.
Let’s take one simple example of PDS. How will Aadhaar make sure the person who is under PDS+Aadhaar gets 100 percent of the rice he is promised and the quality he is promised. At most, Aadhaar can make sure the right person signed up or was present at the delivery spot. It can’t guarantee anything else. It can’t guarantee timeliness, quantity, quality, or absence of bribery. Sorry, the reason you gave is not completely applicable. To burst your bubble, just a unique identity is not going to make India developed.

“Q2: Why are you silent on all the benefits we are seeing as a result of Aadhaar?”
ANS: We do recognise the benefits but with an eye for detail.
In the canned answer, you give examples how the Aadhaar is beneficial. You didn’t link them to the sources. Here are a few links with a counter view.
There are literally hundreds. Just Google. Not sure how you came to this conclusion.
We agree there are benefits from a unique identity and hence from Aadhaar too. We also know benefits always come with the cost. I would like to see both and then make an informed decision.

Q3: Why are you misleading the Indian public about Aadhaar through fear-mongering and sensationalism?”
ANS: No we aren’t.
In your canned answer, you call “dataleaks” as data disclosures and also make a claim that “In fact, people’s digital identity remains secure.”
Since you have not gone into details, I will do that. Let’s take an example from the report Information Security Practices of Aadhaar (or lack thereof): A documentation of public availability of Aadhaar Numbers with sensitive personal financial information. The website of Chandranna Bima Scheme by Govt. of Andhra Pradesh publishes partial Aadhaar numbers, name, father’s/husband’s name, age, caste, mobile number, gender, partially masked bank account number, IFSC code, bank name, and details of the nominee etc.
I was especially disappointed with this question because you also head an online startup. Talk to your security team and see how much information they think is enough to conduct an effective social engineering attack.
Many transactions can be done with just Aadhaar number and OTP. Makes social engineering easier. In the meantime ask your startup’s security team how happy they or your customers will be if their data (of similar type) leaks. Security is not just about keeping password or biometrics safe.
You probably know the after effects of Ashley Madison data breach. Now imagine the kind of effect if the HIV/AIDS patient’s profile data along with Aadhaar number leaks. With Aadhaar, they can be uniquely identified. So again it’s not always about safe biometrics.
There is much more to the security and privacy argument. I would suggest you read this post on Reddit which explains other aspects which I have not gone in detail here.

“Q4: Why are you willing to give biometrics to foreign govts and corporations, but not to your own govt?”
ANS: We have, for example, for the passport. Important terms to know are purpose, choice, and consent.
A very popular question on social media is – ‘How can you give biometrics for the US visa but not to your own government.’ But it’s important to remind everyone that one needs to have a passport before getting a visa.
Everyone who has a passport has given their biometrics to the government. Again, the purpose of the collection is clear and is by choice.
You also talked about the biometrics on phone. Now to assume everyone has a phone or has a phone with biometrics capability is a little too much to assume. Many of us don’t have a phone with biometrics. Happy to announce I don’t need a phone with biometrics to pay taxes.
You also talk about, and I quote, ”control over its usage” and “strict protection of the law”. Here you talk about the control over data and usage. Under Aadhaar Act citizen, citizens don’t have any legal rights to the data. If it is leaked or misused I am not considered an aggrieved party. I cannot sue UIDAI or others involved. That is the kind of protection I get. Of course, there is also the “National Security” clause under which all the data, including authentication records (which they save), can be shared. We need a complete and separate article on that. So I am going to leave it at that.

“Q5: Why are you opposed to using technology to benefit the nation?”
ANS: No we aren’t. You say, and I quote, “Bank account data, PAN data, credit card information, and user information from online accounts, etc. have all been leaked in the past or have seen frauds, yet we have not stopped using online banking, abolished the PAN system, dismantled credit cards, or disconnected from the internet.”
Everything mentioned here can be replaced or I can get rid of the account (except PAN). I can also sue people responsible for it for damages. But in the case of Aadhaar, I can do neither.
It’s also an interesting question. Because as part of this question you expect “a sensible discussion by all” and “constructive arguments”. Now go back to your introduction paragraph see if it’s sensible or constructive to call the critics as corrupt, middlemen or extreme.

To answer your question.
There are many technologies that are built with the aim of building the nation. But not everything with good intention can benefit the people of this nation.

We think the way Aadhaar and its ecosystem is today is not beneficial to Indians given the risks. It is also important to know technology can’t solve all problems.
Hope my answers helped you. Ask more questions.


(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)