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.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

11630 - Explained: Government’s Double Standards on Privacy Before the Supreme Court - The Wire



If the government wants to protect the data of individuals collected by private entities, why does it deny the same under the Aadhaar scheme?

In the WhatsApp case, the Centre told the Supreme Court protection of data integral to a citizen’s personal life is part of his fundamental right to life and dignity. Credit: Reuters

Media reports on the government’s submissions before the Supreme Court during the hearing of the WhatsApp case on July 21 would suggest that the government contradicted itself on the right to privacy.
In the matter being heard by the nine-judge bench on the right to privacy, the government reportedly argued that there is no such right. In the hearing before the five-judge bench, it submitted that it would regulate data sharing by private social media platforms because it violates Article 21 of the constitution and that data is too intimate to an individual’s personality to be left unregulated.

On closer scrutiny, however, what emerges is that the government seeks a nuanced distinction between the encroachment of the right to privacy by private bodies and by the government, which is expected to keep the public interest in view. The government’s view is that while the former requires regulation by it, the latter merits no limitation because of the compelling state interest which justifies it.

Additional solicitor general P.S. Narasimha, who articulated the government’s view before the bench of justices Dipak Misra, A.K. Sikri, Amitava Roy, A.M. Khanwilkar and M. Shantanagoudar, was careful to avoid the expression ‘privacy’, although what he said clearly meant privacy.

In the two-hour-long hearing that day, Narasimha’s submission took just five minutes, but it managed to grab the headlines. He said that data is connected to personality and integral to Article 21 of the constitution, guaranteeing the right to life and liberty. “Any contractual provision impinging on data will impinge on Article 21,” he elaborated.

Before Narasimha made this observation, Harish Salve, counsel of the petitioner Karmanya Singh Sareen, argued that the data collected by private individuals and entities must be regulated. To this, WhatsApp’s counsel Kapil Sibal said there can be no such regulation if there is consent between the private entity and the individual towards sharing of data. Sibal denied that WhatsApp compromised confidentiality of data.

He argued that data is shared for the purpose of commerce, and the court has held in many cases that the mere possibility of injury to rights guaranteed by the constitution is no way to strike down a statute or a policy. Justice Misra disagreed saying injury is immaterial, if the data sharing contract is unconstitutional per se.

At this stage, the central government stepped in, assuring the court that it proposed to bring in a regulatory regime to govern data sharing between individuals and private entities. As data protection of individuals is the obligation of the government, it proposed to bring in a Data Protection Act to regulate data collected by private enterprises, he told the court.

If the government shows this concern to protect the data of individuals being collected by private entities because it believes it involves Article 21 right, why does it deny the same to the collection of biometric data by the government under the Aadhaar scheme?

What Narasimha did not elaborate on Friday before the Supreme Court was that if the government itself collects data for public purposes, there is a qualitative difference to the exercise. It is this qualitative distinction which the government aims to articulate before the nine-judge bench. This qualitative distinction purportedly explains its defence of privacy in the WhatsApp case and its denial in the Aadhaar case.

In the WhatsApp case, the government was not expected to explain its denial of right to privacy in the Aadhar case, the very issue which is being heard by the nine-judge bench. Therefore, Narasimha left this contradiction unexplained before the WhatsApp bench, leading to surprise over the government’s contradictory positions on the same issue before two different benches.

The correctness of the government’s position that there is a qualitative distinction when the government itself collects data as under the Aadhaar scheme, which justifies denial of the right to privacy, is yet to be heard and decided by the nine-judge bench, which would then bind the five-judge bench in the WhatsApp case.

Therefore, it was least surprising when the counsel as well as the bench agreed to adjourn the WhatsApp case to September 6, before which the nine-judge bench would have given a clear verdict on the right to privacy. On Friday, the five-judge bench and the counsel were not sure how the verdict by the nine-judge bench on the right to privacy would impact the hearing in the WhatsApp case, but it was clear it would help to achieve at least some clarity.


On Tuesday, when attorney general K.K. Venugopal resumes the hearing before the nine-judge bench, he is expected to clarify this “qualitative distinction” between the collection of data by private entities and by the government, and whether the government could take liberties with the right to privacy, even if the court concludes that there is indeed such a right, on the ground of compelling state interest. After all, the government could argue that no right, including the yet-to-be recognised right to privacy, could be absolute and therefore, reasonable restrictions on it may be justified.