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 18, 2017

11421 - Aadhaar: The fine balance between identity and anonymity - Live Mint

Last Modified: Wed, May 17 2017. 01 31 AM IST


With mechanisms such as Aadhaar, a balance needs to be drawn between the need for social identity on the one hand, and the very human right to personal privacy

The opposition to the widespread adoption of Aadhaar has, of late, become increasingly vocal. Photo: Hindustan Times

The evolutionary success of Homo sapiens is quite inexplicable. There is very little to distinguish us from the other species who inhabit the planet—in fact our evolutionary ancestors were lower down the food chain than hyenas. Yet, somehow, over the course of millennia, we’ve managed to become the most powerful species on the planet.

In his latest book, Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari puts forward an unusual theory to explain this. Harari argues that the one thing that distinguishes us from apes is our ability to believe in myths—notions like religion and money that are completely made up—in pursuit of which we are willing to make tremendous personal sacrifices. One such myth is the concept of the nation-state. Citizens believe in the notion of nationality and take upon themselves the common identity that a nation-state provides. This belief encourages them to act in concert with other citizens to achieve national goals—even if doing so comes at a personal cost. As a result, nations achieve far more than a single family or even an entire tribe could hope to accomplish. No other animal has the concept of myth-making and hence none can match the accomplishments of humankind.

While there are many elements that make up the myth of nationhood, one of the most prominent among these is identity. It is the concept that establishes the relationship between the individual and the state and allows us to perform our social responsibilities and lay claim to our legal rights. It offers us the means to avail of government facilities and participate in commercial dealings. More importantly, it ensures that the services to which we are entitled actually get to us and are not diverted to someone else. Given the complexity of modern society, reliable identity is critical to our daily existence. The alternative—complete anonymity—is clearly undesirable as it does damage to the myth of the nation-state.

All nation-states have mechanisms to confer identity—from citizenship records that list births and deaths to government registers that contain details of people entitled to various benefits and services. Increasingly, governments around the world are coming around to believe in the need for standardization of national identity. Currently, over 80 nation-states provide some form of national identification number or card to their citizens and even though they were all originally deployed by the government, these forms of identity are more often than not used in all transactions, be they with private parties or with the government.

Aadhaar is India’s mechanism to provide its citizens with a non-repudiable identity. Once it has been rolled out completely, the stated hope is that vast swathes of the population that have, till now, existed outside the mainstream will be able to avail of services and benefits that are currently denied to them for want of identification.

The opposition to the widespread adoption of Aadhaar has, of late, become increasingly vocal. The fear being expressed is that Aadhaar poses a grave risk to personal privacy and that no matter what the benefits may be, its continued proliferation is not worth the potential harm that it could cause. Opponents of the scheme stand against the very concept of a state-conferred identity, preferring anonymity over having to part with their biometrics.

It is important to recognize that identity and anonymity sit at two ends of the same spectrum. As much as the opponents of the national identity scheme might prefer a life of complete anonymity over the risk of State surveillance, if all of us live and work without any form of reliable identity, society would crumble into chaos in very short order. Equally, as much as the government needs to be able to identify its citizens in order for them to play a part in the grand mission of the nation, it must afford them the opportunity to retain their personal privacy.
Neither extreme is acceptable. A balance needs to be drawn between the need for social identity on the one hand, and the very human right to personal privacy.

In my view, this can only be achieved by enacting a privacy law that recognizes the right of the individual to keep certain aspects of their lives private (from both the State as well as other citizens), but which, at the same time, ensures that everyone has the ability to use a non-repudiable, tamper-proof identity in order to be able to function optimally in society. Where any harm is suffered by the individual on account of any violation of his right to personal privacy, this law must prescribe strict punishment for the perpetrator. After all, if we want to preserve and enhance the myth of the nation-state, we would do well to preserve the operational functionality of one of its cornerstones.

Rahul Matthan is a partner at Trilegal. Ex Machina is a column on technology, law and everything in between.
His Twitter handle is @matthan.