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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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

11459 - Why Centre will have to devise a comprehensive Aadhaar Bill and not a money bill to address challenges - Financial Express


With 1,140,800,331 numbers generated as of April 2017, the “Aadhaar card” is the most ubiquitous identity document in India today.

By: Sumita Kale | Published: May 23, 2017 6:48 AM

This government will need to devise a more comprehensive Aadhaar Bill and not a money bill to address these challenges. (Source: IE)

Economics as a subject has always been blessed with diversity of opinions. In 2013, for the first time (and perhaps the only time in history) Robert Shiller and Eugene Fama were both awarded Nobel Prize in Economics for sharing diametrically opposite views on market efficiency.

With 1,140,800,331 numbers generated as of April 2017, the “Aadhaar card” is the most ubiquitous identity document in India today. Yet, the journey of Aadhaar has been riddled with controversy and debate since conception. On one hand, Aadhaar holds a lot of appeal to all authorities that see it as an efficient enabler of authentication and on the other, there are strident voices against it, pushing for stringent data security and privacy protocols. 

In the middle stands our Supreme Court, which is still to give a final hearing on the PILs filed by Aadhaar opponents from 2012. While the Supreme Court’s interim order in 2015 has restrained the government from mandating Aadhaar for any benefits delivery, it referred the issues pertaining to the right to privacy to a Constitution Bench, which is yet to be constituted. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard pleas against the government’s latest move to compulsory link Aadhaar to PAN and income-tax returns, but, the judgement on this is still reserved. Finally, the pleas against mandating Aadhaar for 17 subsidies/benefits are also to be heard this month.

Yet, this is India, and despite the restrictions placed by the Court, insistence on an “Aadhaar card” is fast becoming a de facto rule in many banks, government departments, schools, etc. At the same time, under the Direct Benefits Transfer programme, for which the Aadhaar Act was passed, Aadhaar seeding is yet to become universal—in its two biggest schemes MGNREGS and LPG subsidy (PAHAL) has crossed 80%; less than half the payments are being made through the Aadhaar Payments Bridge. 

There are clearly many ground level challenges in implementing universal Aadhaar seeding and payments authentication—basic connectivity issues, an inadequate readiness of bank agents and branches for digitisation/mapping, inadequate communication to the beneficiaries, etc.

Meanwhile, concerns on issues such as personal rights, state responsibility, and accountability are growing stronger. At this juncture, it is crucial to have a more open discussion on the wider use of Aadhaar, beyond it being an enabler of government transfers. While Aadhaar has the potential to ensure efficient public service delivery and to lower cost of transactions, a single identifier across databases can at once be a boon or a bane. 

The entire experience of giving a digital identity for all Indians has thrown up new challenges for us. We need more debate, inside and outside the Parliament, to work out the contours of the road that Digital India should take. The dialogue that avoids extreme positions and is open to all stakeholders can show us the way forward.

The need for such a dialogue is because questions that have been emerging are centred around Aadhaar, but have wider ramifications. For instance, a recent study by The Centre for Internet and Security showed that some government websites, in a bid for greater transparency, had put up information on Aadhaar numbers, bank accounts, etc, not realising that such dissemination was illegal and increased the risk of identity and financial fraud.

Then there are rising concerns about data security. Specifically, for Aadhaar, clear unambiguous responsibilities need to be fixed on those who handle the data, with heavy deterrents and penalties for breach and unauthorised usage. The Aadhaar Act, 2016, fixes the primary custodianship of the identity information with the UIDAI, but is silent on the liability in case of a data breach—in fact, UIDAI is not mandated to report breaches. For misuse by agencies handling the data, the Aadhaar Act sets out a paltry `10,000 fine (`1 lakh for a company), which is considerably lower than the penalty under the Information Technology Act, 2000, which sets a transacting party compensation of up to `5 crore for mishandling ‘sensitive personal data’.

Last but not the least, is the issue of “exclusion” of beneficiaries when authentication can fail due to multiple reasons—connectivity, fingerprints not matching, fraud by agents, etc. 

Rather than play down such concerns, it is advisable that the government set up strict audit protocols and redressal standards across all states that ensure that beneficiaries’ grievances are heard and addressed expeditiously. Grievance redressal is not limited to Aadhaar-enabled services, yet unless we aim to build up an atmosphere of accountability and transparency at the district/village level, and Aadhaar is a good place to start, vested interests will continue to get away with leakages and excluded voices will remain unheard.

Though most concerns regarding the project had been articulated before its introduction and were fairly well-known, the previous government did not lay out the requisite legislative cover for UIDAI. While the present government continued with the Aadhaar project, it did not take up the gauntlet of full legislation and instead passed the Aadhaar Bill in March 2016, as a money bill for government expenses. The critical problem with Aadhaar is that what was initiated as an authentication tool, has now become an identity proof across the board.

This government will need to devise a more comprehensive Aadhaar Bill and not a money bill to address these challenges. A comprehensive and open discussion on the critical need for modern governance for a comprehensive ID mechanism is essential. With all its warts fixed, Aadhaar is best suited to take on that role. All that it needs is a transparent legal framework to operate under, and this is best achieved through a bill, rather than Supreme Court judgements and case law.