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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Thursday, May 11, 2017

11305 - Aadhaar and data security: Irrespective of what one feels about Aadhaar, a comprehensive new privacy law is needed - TNN


May 10, 2017, 2:00 AM IST Baijayant 'Jay' Panda in TOI Edit Page | Edit Page, India | TOI

Once again Aadhaar, India’s biometric identification system that is the largest such project in the world, is in the eye of a storm after being made mandatory for tax returns. The Supreme Court has started hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging that, and both social and traditional media are abuzz with strong views on the topic.

I filed in Parliament, some weeks ago, a Private Members Bill on Data Privacy and Protection, and for much longer have been advocating the overhaul of our woefully obsolete and fragmented laws with a comprehensive new Act. But this is far from being a black and white issue, and there are many nuances that deserve more deliberation.

Though Aadhaar has become the focal point of this debate, threats to data security and citizens’ rights to privacy go far beyond it. In fact, as its creator and IT industry wunderkind Nandan Nilekani puts it, if a malicious hacker or secretive agency were to try hacking your privacy, cracking Aadhaar would figure low on their list of ways to go about it.
There is vast information about us already out there in the cloud, including biometrics, with more collected every day. This happens through malware, covert eavesdropping, and the mindless permissions we voluntarily grant social media sites and apps. There is now a growing global movement to treat data as one of the world’s most valuable resources and, just like oil was a century ago, tightly regulate it in the public interest.

And just as antitrust laws were passed in the US more than a century ago to break up the dominant Standard Oil Company, now even that flag bearer of free markets, the Economist, has endorsed a call to break open the data dominance of internet giants like Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. But even ardent trustbusters recognise the immense benefits such companies have developed for humankind and expressly seek to preserve those, aiming only to prevent the abuse of dominant power.

By contrast, many pro-privacy and data protection activists in India are largely in denial about the benefits of Aadhaar, while correctly seeking to plug the threats related to it. Ironically, when it comes to other risky aspects of our growing connectedness, such as online financial transactions, even the most passionate activists seek reasonable security measures, not outright bans or curtailment.

Our approach to Aadhaar must be the same, taking advantage of its immense potential for good while putting in place a modern legal framework to prevent abuse. Aadhaar has already led to the plugging of significant ‘leakages’, a polite term for massive corruption, but the potential is far, far more.

Many people remember late PM Rajiv Gandhi’s 1980s comment that only 15 paise of every rupee spent by government ever reached beneficiaries. Newer data from the erstwhile Planning Commission between 2005 and 2014 revealed that 40-73% of the money spent on the public distribution system (PDS) never reached beneficiaries

Similarly, mind-boggling amounts of taxes are evaded in India by the simple tactic of maintaining multiple permanent account number (PAN) cards, which are required for bank accounts and big transactions. India has approximately 19 million income taxpayers versus 250 million PAN cards, and there is no way to de-duplicate the latter without Aadhaar. There are several such examples of large-scale fraud or inefficiencies that could also be cleaned up.

The conflation of alleged leakage of Aadhaar numbers as leakage of the underlying biometrics may be confusing to some. Nevertheless, whether cavalier or criminal, such misuse of private data is unconscionable and should attract punishment. In any event, irrespective of what one feels about Aadhaar, a comprehensive new data protection and privacy law is needed to supersede the inadequate and overlapping Indian Telegraph Act (1885), as well as the Information Technology Act (2000) and its Rules (2011).

The data protection aspect of such a law must emphasise a person’s rights to her personal data; require her informed consent to collect, process, remove or alter such data; oblige those who deal with data to keep it secure; and have a grievance mechanism to punish violations with hefty fines and imprisonment.

However, the privacy aspect of any new law is bound to be complex and will undoubtedly stir even more controversy. Indian laws don’t provide for a specific right to privacy, though court judgments have defined certain limited rights, and the SC has admitted yet another PIL on the topic.

Meanwhile, some activists’ insistence on citizens’ absolute right to privacy will inevitably run afoul of security considerations, including in some cases national security. In this age of terrorism, the issue of surveillance will be a major point of debate. Standards will be needed which permit the anonymous surveillance of metadata, such as algorithms that flag frequent references to, say “RDX” in emails, with prima facie evidence and warrants being required for further snooping.

Like it or not, we have already ceded rights to absolute privacy, such as with body scanners at airport security, not to mention widespread adoption of CCTV cameras. New technologies enable these to have biometric capabilities too, allowing individual identification similar to Aadhaar.

That should not mean more concessions of privacy are to be wantonly permitted. But neither should it mean the imposition of unreasonable, impractical rules that thwart 21st century life.



DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.