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

113113 - There has been no Aadhaar ‘data leak’ - Ram Shewak Sharma - ET

May 9, 2017, 12:20 AM IST Economic Times in ET Commentary | Edit PageIndia | ET  
By Ram Sewak Sharma

There has been a concerted campaign in the last few weeks ‘exposing’ the Aadhaar ‘data leak’. The impression given in many sections of the media is that something very serious has happened and personal and sensitive information of citizens has been hacked and leaked.

This is sensationalisation that makes a mountain out of a molehill. What really has happened is that the information relating to beneficiaries of various programmes of state governments — already published on the websites of concerned departments — has been suddenly discovered by some activists and exposed as a massive data leak.

The timing of the ‘discovery’ is also interesting since the case relating to Aadhaar is being argued by the concerned parties and issues of privacy are being debated. For starters, Aadhaar is not a secret or confidential number. It is a random number bereft of any intelligence. It is just a number attached to an individual in a unique manner. As per the Aadhaar Act, “An Aadhaar number shall be a random number and bear no relation to the attributes or identity of the Aadhaar number holder.”
If I give my Aadhaar number to you, you can cause no harm to me. Secondly, biometric information collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for ensuring uniqueness has been declared as the ‘sensitive personal data’ within the meaning of IT Act.

The Aadhaar number is not a ‘sensitive personal data’. Finally, one shares her Aadhaar number to many agencies for getting various services and facilities. Aadhaar numbers are shared with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation for availing senior citizen benefits in rail travel, with telcos for getting mobile SIMs, with banks to link bank accounts, and with oil marketing companies to get LPG subsidy.

Thus, each of the agencies is in possession of Aadhaar numbers. Many state and central government departments are seeding various beneficiary databases with Aadhaar numbers to weed out duplicates and ghosts. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme, scholarships and pensions are three such examples out of many.

No Numbing Numbers
Section 29(4) of Aadhaar Act prohibits the publication of Aadhaar numbers except for the purposes specified by regulations. The regulations also reiterate this provision and provide that no entity shall make public any database or record containing the Aadhaar numbers of individuals unless they have been “redacted or blacked out through appropriate means, both in print and electronic form”.

Thus, if the authorities do publish the information, the Aadhaar number should be either partially or fully masked in that publication. The purpose of these restrictions is that while Aadhaar numbers themselves are not confidential, their publication in various public records will make it easy to collate information about persons. Collation of data, unfortunately, has become relatively easy in the digital world even otherwise. Now to look at the issue from the angle of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The broad objective behind RTI is to ensure transparency in the functioning of public authorities and enable social audit of various programmes. Under RTI, public authorities are under obligation to provide the information available with them unless the same has been expressly prohibited under Section 8 of the Act. Section 4 of the RTI Act mandates every public authority to publish information in its possession in a digital form.
Specifically, Section 4(b)(xii) mandates the publication of details of beneficiaries of various subsidy programmes being executed by every public authority. Hence, it should be clear that the list of beneficiaries of various programmes are being published by concerned state governments in compliance of RTI Act.

If a person applies for getting the details of beneficiaries of any scheme under the RTI Act, the public authorities will be duty-bound to provide all the information they have, including the Aadhaar numbers.

Section 8 exemptions will not be able to hold back the Aadhaar numbers. Now the issue is: what constitutes the details for the purpose of publishing on websites? Should an Aadhaar number be included in the details of a person? This is essentially a question of balancing transparency of public records and privacy of individuals.

My personal view is that the last four digits of Aadhaar number can be published and the first eight digits be masked. This will satisfy the provisions of both RTI and the Aadhaar Acts. However, to say that publication of Aadhaar numbers by authorities constitutes a data breach, or data leak, is far from the truth.

Digits Safe in Digital Era
The government has categorically asserted that not even a single example exists of a breach or leak of data from UIDAI. As UIDAI keeps data encrypted all the time with the highest encryption standards, the probability of leak is almost zero.
Under RTI, governments have been publishing details of all kinds including bank accounts (in case of MNREGA workers) and Aadhaar numbers. Further, now that the Aadhaar Act has certain provisions relating to the publication of Aadhaar numbers, there is a need to harmonise the transparency requirements of the RTI Act with the privacy-related provisions of the Aadhaar Act. The best way is to partially mask the Aadhaar numbers before publishing them on a digital platform.

(The writer is chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)