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, July 25, 2017

11626 - Govt has been speaking in two tongues on right to privacy: Reetika Khera - Business Standard


I don't think the Supreme Court will let us down, Khera said in an interview
July 22, 2017 Last Updated at 21:26 IST









     Reetika Khera

As a nine-judge Constitution bench in the Supreme Court decides whether right to privacy is a basic right of citizens, economist and social scientist Reetika Khera speaks to Ranjita Ganesan on how this relates to the Aadhaar debate and social media. Edited excerpts:

It is being said in the Supreme Court that the right to privacy is not absolute. What would this mean for the Aadhaar debate?

The government has been speaking in two tongues on the right to privacy for a long time. The latest example of this is the same government that is challenging whether it is fundamental right in the Aadhaar matter, in the WhatsApp case, is saying that privacy is integral to Article 21. At least two ministers of this government have expressed their commitment to upholding the right to privacy, yet in the Supreme Court now, they argue against this right. In their submissions to the Supreme Court in the Aadhaar matter, the government has also said so. When the BJP was in the opposition, it was among the biggest critics of the Aadhaar project, and it has never clarified why its stance changed after coming to power. 

On the other hand, the Congress party too has a lot to explain (especially its rush in implementing the Aadhaar project, without following due process). This magnifies the responsibility of the Supreme Court in the discussion on the fundamental right to privacy as well as the existence of the Aadhaar project.


Do you believe it is important to recognise the law on right to privacy as fundamental, and why? 

The right to privacy is inherent in Articles 14, 19 and 21. It is a prerequisite for a good democracy. Privacy is also essential to a life of dignity (this is also one of the main grounds of opposition from Dalit groups and those opposing Section 377). What is crucial therefore, is for the Supreme Court to say that the right to privacy is indeed a fundamental right. As senior counsel Shyam Divan said in the court, recognising it as fundamental is a stronger protection (than common law), which gives greater recourse to us as citizens but will also act as a control on state power. The court may then add that the jurisprudence developed in India since the Gobind case have no reason to be interfered with. Going ahead, it may examine questions on the violation of privacy, on a case by case basis (including in the Aadhaar project).

Some questions that the bench raised for petitioners were, what should be the width and contours of right to privacy? What should be the reasonable restrictions attached to it? What is your view on this?

Since the Gobind case, there are 40 cases in Indian jurisprudence that have upheld the right to privacy. I don’t think the petitioners are arguing that the right to privacy is absolute. For example, if I am seeking a loan, I cannot invoke the right to privacy and  not reveal any financial information to the bank. One of the judges made a stray remark in this limited context about right to privacy not being absolute. Unfortunately, that was picked up as a headline by several major news outlets.

Several developed countries decided against identification systems to protect privacy. Given how far along the process we are here in India, does it seem like a re-examination can happen?

There are other countries too where Aadhaar like programmes were envisaged and rejected. This includes, the United Kingdom, where enrolment had started. Yet, when the Conservative government scrapped the project, all the data was physically destroyed. The good news is that the Aadhaar project is reversible. For example, it would only require deleting the Aadhaar field from all the databases where it has been linked, and of course, deleting the data stored in the central repository. 

An argument people often make is that social media also has access to private information. How is such mining by private players distinct from that by the state?

It is true that we are profiled , and our data is already being monetised (Google and Facebook are the best examples). That we are already profiled and surveilled doesn’t justify more non-consensual (in the sense of informed consent) information sharing and profiling. There are four reasons for this. One, none of the existing technologies are all-encompassing in the same way as the Aadhaar project. Two, there is a genuine element of consent with many of these — example, Facebook may be a great surveillance tool, but it can only know about my banking transactions or travel, if I share that information there. Three, there are technologies such as encryption and Virtual Private Network  to protect ourselves (partially at least) from such surveillance. Four, to say that because we are already being surveilled, we should not be questioning the Aadhaar project, is akin to saying that since we have been robbed in the past, we should sleep with our doors and windows open.  Further, what the applications of Aadhaar are doing is to deny some people their existing rights (example, ration under the National Food Security Act).

What are your expectations regarding the outcomes of the hearing, when it continues next week?

I suspect that the government will indulge in scaremongering in the court, saying we need to restrain the right on national security grounds (probably invoke terrorist attacks or some such drama). I believe that recognising the right to privacy as a fundamental right is key to preserving Indian democracy. I don’t think the Supreme Court will let us down.