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.


Friday, May 26, 2017

11472 - Aadhaar Card: One Identity, Multiple Disorders Gaurav Raj - India Saga



New Delhi - It is still hazy to see the desperation of the union government to imposing the Aadhaar Card mandatory when matters related to Aadhaar Card are already sub judice. The constitutionality of Aadhaar is yet to be decided by the Supreme Court, however, the enrolment of Aadhaar has reached the mark of more than one billion. Recently, the government declared Aadhaar mandatory to file Income Tax Return (ITR) while the Supreme Court is opined not to treat Aadhaar mandatory, but voluntarily. 

Now it is imperative of the government to confide the citizens that the Aadhaar information- demography and biometrics-are in safe hands, a debate which has been heating up, and the contempt of the court’s decision by the government is for greater good. But the uproar against the speculation of identity revelation threat and possible misuse of Aadhaar details by the government-corporate nexus, plausible reasons to doubt the security of privacy, which is a fundamental right of Indian citizen. Ironically, after the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley defended the ‘Aadhaar Money Bill controversy’ filed by former congress MP Jairam Ramesh in the court, the Supreme Court is in dilemma and yet to decide whether ‘Right to Privacy' is a fundamental right or not.

Why Aadhaar Card Mandatory?
Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of Infosys and the ideologue of Aadhaar, said that Aadhaar will change the PDS system in India since it ensures no ghost or fake beneficiaries to avail unentitled benefits of the various welfare schemes and subsidies. Nilekani also says that there might be margin of error up to 5 per cent in distributing the subsidies or benefits of various welfare schemes to the masses. The top-honcho technocrat has also defended Aadhaar that any breach of privacy of citizens is not possible as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is efficient to secure the public data under CIDR. 

The government claims that the corruption-mounted Public Distribution System (PDS) in India is reformed due to the introduction of the 12 digit unique identification number. More than 40000 crore have been saved in the form of exchequer due to curb of fake and ghost beneficiaries in the PDS system. Now if we believe Nilekani claim of 5% error, then more than 5 crore beneficiaries would be losing their benefits due the error in the biometric identification. The Infosys co-founder later said that if there is a margin of error then ‘One Time Password’ (OTP) comes in. However, he didn’t define what if there is a congestion of network in the remotest Indian villages where phone signals are rare? Standing on the PDS shop waiting for food grains and network, is certainly not an ideal way to avail the benefits of the government welfare schemes. 

In 2011, activist and writer Ruchika Gupta said in an interview to Tahalka, “The UID cannot address the bulk of delivery problems in the two of the biggest social sectors programmes like MGNREGA and PDS. Linking UID with social sector legislation is completely baseless.”

PAN Card Linked with Aadhaar Card?
The government has directed the Reserve Bank of India to make Aadhaar mandatory for Income Tax Return filing. Currently, there are approximately 24.37 crores PAN holders in India, however 3.8 crore people file income tax return every year. There have been cases of people owned not more than one but 100 PAN Cards with them. PAN cards in India are mostly used by the citizens as a proof of identity. The government believes that PAN card linking with Aadhaar will curb the tax evasion. 

How Safe Is Your Data In This Panopticon Model Of Mass Surveillance?

In the late 18th century, the well-known English social reformer and jurist Jeremy Bentham wanted to build a ‘panoptican’ for a mass surveillance of the prisoners in England. He advocated designing an institutional building be used to keep an eye on all the jail inmates by a single watchman. Very similarly, India is witnessing the biggest surveillance program ever under the name of single identity and availing benefits of governments’ schemes. Another logic behind enrolment of Aadhaar is the ‘national security’. National security? 

How can any government ensure national security backing Aadhaar, when international companies have been hired in consortium to collect residents’ biometric and demography details? In 2010, Accenture, Mahindra-Satyam Morpho and L1 identity solutions were pooled in by UIDAI for leveraging de-duplication exercise of Aadhaar and data collection.  L1 Identity Solutions’ top brasses are the former Director CIA George Tenet and former Homeland Security deputy secretary Adm James. With its headquarters in Connecticut, this company is one of the biggest defence contractors specialised in facial recognition and biometrics. L1 Identity Solutions and Accenture work in a close affinity to US intelligence agencies. This is an age of information. Corporate houses and big telecom players are dying to get details of consumers. Obvious are the concerns about the safety and security of the people’s data. It is feared that the database can be used for various marketing and business purposes.

 
CIDR, A Single Database Of People’s Data
Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) is a data management and storing agency in India which is initiated for the Aadhaar project. It is regulated by the statutory body of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). This centralised database is probably one of the biggest repositories on this planet.
In 2010, experts had claimed that more than a thousand government sites and portals were attacked more than 4000 times by China alone in one year. In April 2011, 77 million Sony Playstations and digital media delivery service Qriocity were hacked which resulted into a shutdown of the network for a week. The London School of Economics also reported that a central database of vulnerable to hacking and other terrorist and cyber crime activities. Recently Wannacry Ransomware virus hits the globe. More than 99 countries were affected. 
Building one single repository for billions of Aadhaar Card data seems to be a big risk in the most vulnerable country where dat breach is at most. 

Data Leak Crisis
UIDAI has so far spent approximately 5982.62 crores for more than a billion enrolments of Aadhaar Cards. 1615.34 crores have been spent between the financial year 2015-2016. Centre for Internet and Society, Bengaluru-based organization (CIS) has learned that data of more than 130 million Aadhaar card holders has been leaked from four government websites. They are National Social Assistance Programme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Chandranna Bima Scheme and Daily Online Payments Reports of NREGA. It also includes Bank details and other confidential details of millions of residents.

What is Next?

The Lok Sabha has passed the Aadhaar Bill as Money Bill. Mukul Rohatgi said in the Supreme Court that according to Article 110 of the constitution, there is use of consolidated funds of India so the bill is a Money bill. Chief Justice Khehar said, “Your object might be good but whether it is a ‘Money Bill’ or not is the question.” Justice Ramana referred to a 2014 judgment passed by the Apex court that courts had no jurisdiction over procedurals matters of legislative.” In response P. Chidambram, the counsel for Jairam Ramesh said, “This petition is not about a procedural matter. There has been substantive infraction.”