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 24, 2017

11463 - Co-founder of UIDAI-associated outfit admits to anonymously trolling Aadhaar critics on Twitter - Scroll.In


Sharad Sharma, governing council member of iSpirt, offered an apology and said he would be investigated by a compliance committee.


Published Yesterday · 05:25 pm.  


A co-founder of iSpirt, a private non-governmental organisation closely associated with the Aadhaar-administering Unique Identification Authority of India, has admitted to anonymously trolling critics of the Aadhaar project on Twitter. In a tweet on Tuesday, iSpirt governing council member Sharad Sharma said he had “slipped”, offered an apology for his behaviour and announced that the organisation had set up a committee to investigate his actions.

“Anonymity seemed easier than propriety, and tired as I was by personal events and attacks on iSPIRT’s reputation, I slipped,” Sharma wrote in his Twitter post. “I won’t be part of anything like this nor passively allow such behaviour to happen, even in the worst of times.”

The admission of anonymous trolls harassing Aadhaar critics – suggesting that they were likely to be in the pay of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, for instance – comes just days after the UIDAI officially complained about researchers who had pointed to holes in the security standards of the Aadhaar project. Taken together, this suggests an environment where anyone questioning the government’s biometrically linked identity number programme is likely to be subject to both official and anonymous attacks.

What is iSpirt?

iSpirt, or the Indian Software Product Industry Roundtable, was constituted in 2013 as an offshoot of industry body NASSCOM’s annual product conclave. It was built by donors, volunteers and partners from the Indian tech industry, and included former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani as a mentor. It also featured at least two key members of the team that worked at UIDAI: Pramod Varma, who was the Chief Technology Architect of Aadhaar, and Sanjay Jain, its Chief Product Manager.

The organisation helped build India Stack, a set of software products that are explicitly aimed at building apps on top of the Aadhaar database. India Stack builds Aadhaar-based apps and then “evangelises” them to the government – which Medianama’s Nikhil Pahwa points out is uncomfortably close to them – as well as to private organisations.

As legal researcher Usha Ramanthan explains, “The same people who worked within the government to set the framework for Aadhaar went on to create products in the private sector to harness its commercial potential – a clear case of conflict of interest.”

Pro-Aadhaar trolls

Sharma’s admission is a reference to allegations first made by Internet Freedom Foundation co-founder Kiran Jonnalagadda. Jonnalagadda had pointed out that earlier in the month a number of anonymous accounts had started harrassing him and others who had questioned Aadhaar, the Indian government’s programme to provide a 12-digit unique identity to more than 120 crore residents which is under challenge in the Supreme Court over privacy concerns.

The tweets swung from arguing that Jonnalagadda was being a hypocrite to going as far as alleging that a research organisation critiquing Aadhaar’s implementation was funded by Pakistan.

Denial & admission
Jonnalagadda examined some of the tweets and concluded, in a blog post, that at least one of the accounts was being run by iSpirt’s Sharad Sharma, who is quite well known within India’s tech industry. Speaking to the technology news website FactorDaily soon after, Sharma categorically denied that he was behind the “Confident_India” Twitter account and said that it was “some kind of silly frameup”.

Following this denial, Jonnalagadda added more details to his blogpost, including a leaked iSpirt presentation that referenced the organisation’s plan for handling criticism. One of the slides mentioned a group of iSpirt volunteers referred to as “swordsmen” who were placed under the category of “informed but trolling”, which Jonnalagadda took as further evidence that the organisation was involved in anonymous trolling. Again, iSpirt denied these allegations, saying that Jonnalagadda was misreading the leaked slide.


@Confident_India @criticrahul @Indiaforward2 @munshiji2017 @draveedian @Acitizen13 Here's the full story on #AadhaarTrollMafia. Read till the end. It's far more sinister than one rogue agent trolling

But on his apology on Tuesday, Sharma admitted that there were anonymous Twitter accounts operating beyond just his. “There was a lapse of judgment on my part,” he wrote. “I condoned tweets with uncivil comments.”


On my flight back from the US, I reflected on my recent behaviour on Twitter.... I unreservedly apologize to all who were hurt... more below
Sharma’s post says iSpirt’s governing council has set up a committee to investigate the issue and recommend a revision of the code of ethics and corrective actions. “They’ll decide and I will abide by their decision,” he added.

Sharma’s admission that he had been trolling critics received praise from Nandan Nilekani, the architect of the Aadhaar project, who said he would certainly take iSpirt to greater heights.


Bravo, Sharad! I am sure that the indefatigable @sharads will take iSPIRT to greater heights.



We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.