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.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

11298 - Towards a unique digital South Asian identity - The Hindu


MAY 09, 2017 00:02 IST


Executed properly, Aadhaar could become a central pillar of India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy

The enthusiasm with which government agencies and businesses have embraced Aadhaar should prompt India’s foreign policy planners to deploy it abroad. Executed properly, Aadhaar could become a central pillar of India’s “neighbourhood first” policy, culminating in the creation of a unique digital South Asian identity. A single, region-wide platform to authenticate residents of South Asia could integrate its markets, bring communities closer and allow governments to offer a wider range of governance services. None of this is to ignore the steps that India’s Unique Identification Authority must take to secure its own Aadhaar ecosystem. But the demand for identity-driven governance in South Asia is indisputable, and Aadhaar could be Indian foreign policy’s biggest asset to promote economic and political convergence in the region.

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Already, South Asian economies are in varying stages of conceiving or implementing their own “national identity” schemes. Pakistan has the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), that for two decades has collected biometric information. NADRA, however, has seen limited success: at last count, it had issued only 3.8 lakh ID cards to Pakistanis, in comparison to Aadhaar’s one billion-plus enrolments. In 2013, NADRA even won an international contract to create Sri Lanka’s digital national identity scheme, but that project appears to have stalled. Nepal, meanwhile, intends to roll out biometrics-driven “national ID cards” to its citizens soon. The Election Commission in Bangladesh began issuing such cards last year.

Exporting Aadhaar
South Asian governments, long content to gather data through traditional means such as censuses, are struggling to capture dynamic trends in their population. Current databases shine no light on urban mobility, data consumption patterns, or quality of life, because these are metrics that need integrated data sets and powerful analytical tools. To capture “multi-dimensional” data, India’s neighbours have moved towards digital identity schemes. The need for unique IDs is also acute because post-conflict societies in South Asia have not fully rehabilitated excluded minorities or former combatants. In comparison to politically fraught changes — for instance, the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution for the devolution of powers, or federalist reforms in Nepal — digital identity schemes are easier to implement, can strengthen local governments and support the financial inclusion of marginalised sections.

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Beyond collecting biometric data, however, South Asian governments have not been able to create digital ID-enabled applications. This is what Aadhaar has mastered, making it a very valuable foreign policy export. Its open application programming interface (API) layers — known as “India Stack” — set Aadhaar apart from other biometric ID programmes. India Stack APIs, which include the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and Aadhaar e-KYC, allow applications to be built atop them (for example, the Bharat Interface for Money or BHIM app) and enable identity-driven transactions. Such platforms will be invaluable to an economy working to integrate its communities. Take the return of military-occupied land in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province to the Tamils, an exercise that has become a political and logistical nightmare for Colombo. A digital identity-based scheme will not only authenticate the legitimate recipients of land, but also simplify future transactions for sale, leasing or commercial use. In Bangladesh, digital IDs could track loans made by multiple microfinance institutions to the same borrower and help check rural debt.

Strategic benefits
India too stands to benefit by exporting the Aadhaar architecture. The digital networks for much of South Asia are likely to be supplied by Chinese companies over the next decade. Telecom pipes and towers built by China will carry the Internet to the user, but innovation in Asia’s digital economies will happen at the top — the “app layer”. Aadhaar-like platforms catalyse innovation by tailoring Big Data for governments and businesses alike. The political and economic leverage India will accrue as a result of enabling such entrepreneurship will surpass fixed investments by China. There is another strategic reason for India to export the Aadhaar platform. Once a critical mass of Aadhaar-enabled applications has been created, interoperability standards for the digital ecosystem will be determined by the Unique ID programme. App developers, handheld manufacturers, and even Internet Service Providers will have to work around Aadhaar’s encryption standards and data protection guidelines. Such a scenario will be India’s best response to concerns that China will pump its infrastructure, and — in the words of Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar — “hard wire” the norms of governance in the region.
The same concerns of surveillance and privacy that animate the Aadhaar debate in India would no doubt be reflected in South Asian societies. Perhaps more sharply, given the propensity of some governments in the neighbourhood to target minority communities. They can learn from India’s mistakes. South Asian countries that have not digitised their public databases fully can create secure ones to link to unique ID programmes. A national ID programme would also be a trigger for them to enact strong data protection laws.
Aadhaar is a constitutional technology that can build whole new information and communication technology ecosystems. New Delhi should appreciate its foreign policy value and integrate the project into its neighbourhood agenda.

Arun Mohan Sukumar heads the Cyber Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation. Madhulika Srikumar contributed with research inputs to this piece