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, July 21, 2017

11619 - Has SC already given tacit approval for Aadhar? - Indian Express


The impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right on not will also have a significant impact on private players, such as Google and social media platforms. If privacy is a fundamental right, it can be claimed and asserted against the State by citizens.

Written by Tara Narula | Published:July 21, 2017 8:07 am


The Aadhar Act came into being in March 2016, only to be challenged again. (File photo)
The batch of matters challenging the Aadhar Scheme has been pending for years with no fruitful result. The UPA has given way to the BJP government at the Centre, interim orders have been strengthened and weakened, while a reference to a larger bench for a decision on the right to privacy was made as long ago as on August 11, 2015. The Aadhar Act came into being in March 2016, only to be challenged again.
Now, finally, the issue of whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right or not under the Constitution is being heard by a nine-judge bench. In its judgment on August 11, 2015, the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had clearly told the Centre as well as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that the Aadhar card could not be a mandatory requirement for obtaining any benefit due to a citizen.
The question whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right is of intrinsic importance beyond the Aadhar scheme. The right to privacy stands established as a Common Law right; should the Supreme Court decide it is covered under Part III (Fundamental Rights), the State becomes especially accountable for its protection.
The impact of the decision on private players, such as companies like Google and social media platforms, may also be significant. If privacy is a fundamental right, it can be claimed and asserted against the State by citizens. But can it also be asserted against private parties?
Assuming the Supreme Court decides the right to privacy is a fundamental right, it will be crucial for the Court to also decide whether it should, and can be, applied “horizontally”. Fundamental rights are vertically enforceable, that is, by the individual against actions of the State or public bodies. Horizontal application would mean that even the actions of private actors are tested on its cornerstone.
Over the years, courts have expanded the number of institutions within the definition of “State,” thereby allowing fundamental rights to be asserted horizontally. Today the Supreme Court has the opportunity to expand the scope and enforceability of the right to privacy. But it must also guide the obligations that arise on public and private players from this right, otherwise it would be difficult to assert it for several years to come.
The debate in India on privacy and data protection has come rather late, after the proliferation of the Internet, search engines, and social media. The nine-judge Bench observed yesterday, on July 20, that a significant amount of personal data has already been given by individuals to private players, and may be on the Internet or the “dark web”. While there is some amount of regulation under the Information Technology Act and restrictions on the use of “sensitive personal information,” India has yet to adopt a comprehensive Data Protection Code as has been done by the UK and European Union, for example.
The Supreme Court should urge the State to enact such legislation or fill the gap by detailing guidelines for data protection until such legislation is enacted.
Once the reference is decided, the validity of Aadhar will be adjudicated. Even with interim orders in place, the Aadhar scheme has been remarkably successful in allotting people Unique Identities. On December 5, 2013, UIDAI boasted it had issued 51 crore Aadhaar numbers. By January 6, 2015, the number stood at 73.4 Crore. Today, more than 1.154 billion Indians, that is, the vast majority of the population, have provided their biometric details and obtained an Aadhar Card.
In spite of publicly stating the voluntary nature of the scheme, the rate of enrolment is perhaps less remarkable than it is remarkably suspicious; particularly in view of the widespread reports of the denial of benefits to those without an Aadhar card.
In 2016, the government dropped all pretence of dissociation between the Aadhar card and its welfarist schemes by passing an Act titled, ‘The Aadhar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.’ The Act clearly links the provision of benefits to Aadhar enrolment and gives legislative backing to what the government has been doing for several years.
In that lies a deep contempt of, and for, the Supreme Court of India. In its refusal to constitute the appropriate bench and hear the matter for several years lies the Supreme Court’s tacit approval for the Aadhar scheme. In the time spent deciding whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right, the sustainability of Aadhar stands decided by the sheer strength of numbers. Today, over 90 percent of the country’s population have given their biometric details and hold Aadhar cards.
Nevertheless, this is a watershed moment, the ramifications of which will unfold over the years. Of course the Supreme Court could outlaw the entire Aadhar scheme and declare the Aadhar Act unconstitutional. The consequence of that would be far-reaching and politically radical – especially as Rs 9029.6 crores has already been spent and Aadhar is being widely used as proof of identity.
What the decision cannot do is retrospectively prevent the proliferation of Aadhar or monitor the manner in which it was promoted. It can hardly reverse the rampant sharing and misuse of personal data by private players that has already occurred, evidenced by targeted advertising and marketing. In light of this, the right to privacy may already be illusory. Even so, it is incumbent on the court to determine whether the illusion is necessary in order to lead a life of freedom and dignity.

Tara Narula is an advocate practicing in Delhi and tweets @taranarula1