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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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

11492 - The Aadhaar legal framework is broken - LIVE MINT

Last Modified: Tue, May 30 2017. 01 45 AM IST


The regulations are weak on grievance redressal and completely absent in the case of authentication and data security

VRINDA BHANDARI / RENUKA SANE


There is not enough clarity on important aspects pertaining to the Aadhaar scheme. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Aadhaar has in recent times become an important tool in the government armoury. From welfare receipts to filing tax returns, an Aadhaar number is now an all-pervasive prerequisite. As Aadhaar becomes the core around which our relationship with the state revolves, we need to ask ourselves if the surrounding legal framework provides enough clarity on the enrolment, authentication, and storage processes. Are there adequate protections against misuse? Do citizens have access to an adequate grievance redressal mechanism? We think the answers to these questions are a resounding no.

Before explaining further, it is important to understand the authority that runs and regulates Aadhaar. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is the agency responsible for Aadhaar enrolment and authentication, ensuring the security of individuals’ identity information, and managing the grievance redressal mechanism. Two legal instruments shape UIDAI’s behaviour: the Aadhaar Act, 2016, and the Aadhaar Regulations, 2016, on enrolment, authentication, data security, and sharing of information. We need these to be precise, and to provide for adequate checks and balances to hold UIDAI accountable.

Herein lies the problem. There is not enough clarity on important aspects pertaining to the Aadhaar scheme. The Aadhaar Act left several aspects, such as the information required for enrolment and verification, the procedure of sharing identity information, and the security protocols, to be specified “by regulations”. So we have a law that has decided to not specify these core issues, in the expectation that they would be fleshed out in future regulations.

However, even the regulations issued by UIDAI left key aspects to be specified by it at a future undetermined date. For instance, the “standards” for collecting biometric and demographic information, and the procedure for updating biometric information of children are to be “specified by the Authority”. Similarly, UIDAI shall generate the Aadhaar number after de-duplication and “other checks as specified by the Authority”. Throughout the regulations, the phrase “specified by Authority” has been used 51 times. So, today, seven years after the first Aadhaar number was issued, we still do not have clarity on several issues that are key to Aadhaar’s functioning.
It may sometimes be justified, as in the case of technical information, for UIDAI to leave things unspecified. But when issues that determine how sensitive, personal information is collected, authenticated, stored, used, and shared with third parties are left unspecified, it becomes cause for concern. Moreover, we do not even know if, and when, UIDAI will specify these issues, as there seems to be no obligation on it to do so.

The regulations are also weak on grievance redressal, and are completely absent in the case of the Aadhaar Regulations on authentication and data security. There is little information about the actual process of redress, how it will work, the composition of the “contact centres”, the performance standards and timelines on which their work will be evaluated, the binding nature of the resolution mechanism, the identity of the final decision-maker, and the possibility of appealing/challenging UIDAI’s decision.

Even when it comes to the omission or deactivation of an Aadhaar number, the regulations provide little panacea. First, there is no requirement for UIDAI to hear the person whose Aadhaar number is sought to be omitted or deactivated, and thus no requirement to follow principles of natural justice. Second, UIDAI’s decision (based on a report submitted by its nominated “agency” after following procedures “to be specified” in the future) is final, and no appellate remedy has been provided for. Finally, the Aadhaar number holder will simply be informed about this decision by text and his/her only remedy will be to use the completely inadequate grievance redressal mechanism (“contact centres”). When you consider the consequences of deactivation, such that a person may get excluded from benefit receipts, or may not be able to file tax returns, the lack of substance in the grievance redressal process becomes hugely problematic.
The Aadhaar Act and regulations also say little on enforcement. The Act has a specific chapter on offences and penalties, where it criminalizes certain actions such as unauthorized access or disclosure of identity information. However, unlike most other statutes, only UIDAI can file a criminal complaint for violations of the Act, and not the person aggrieved. Thus, if UIDAI thinks that a complaint is not worth pursuing, then the Aadhaar number holder has no remedy and no means of holding UIDAI to account. Further, the Aadhaar Act does not talk about damages to the affected person. There are also no clear procedures for imposing liabilities on enrolment or authentication service agencies, thus reducing the incentives of these service providers to comply with the legal framework.
Aadhaar is the centrepiece of the government’s agenda. However, the enrolment and authentication processes are still operating in a sort of legal vacuum. In the absence of a privacy law in India, the need for an effective accountability and enforcement mechanism in the Act becomes even more important. There is thus an urgent need to introduce amendments to the Aadhaar Act and regulations to address these problems.
Vrinda Bhandari and Renuka Sane are, respectively, a practising advocate in Delhi and an associate professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi.