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, August 1, 2017

11687 - India’s national ID program raises privacy concerns - PBS News Hour


July 29, 2017 at 3:23 PM EDT

Since 2010, India has undertaken what is by far the largest citizen registration drive in history by documenting most of its 1.3 billion people into a single national identification database. The system assigns a number and records fingerprints and iris scans. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the country's biometric database and the privacy concerns it raises.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Over the past seven years, across India, almost every citizen has stood in line to get a new national ID. It’s a 12-digit number backed by biometric security. A head shot plus fingerprints plus an iris scan. It is the most exhaustive headcount by a country in history. Ajay Bushan Pandey heads “Aadhaar,” the agency running the identification program.

AJAY BUSHAN PANDEY: We have now reached the figure of 1.15 billion people. Among the adults, more than 99 percent of the adults have Aadhaar now.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Pandey says the Aadhaar Project, which has so far cost 90 billion rupees — about a billion-and-half dollars — improves national security by making it easier to monitor border crossings with India’s neighbors, like Pakistan and Bangladesh. He says the biometric IDs verify identity and weed out corruption by replacing paper records — if they even exist– with electronic ones. Aadhaar is bringing vast sections of the country that barely entered the Industrial Age into the Digital Age.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Many people in India don’t have birth certificates or formal IDs, and the government says that the Aadhaar program will correct this problem by issuing everyone a unique biometric identification. “A tool of inclusion” is what the government calls it.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A-third of India’s population survives on less than two dollars a day. They and many low-to-middle income people receive government benefits including temporary employment in public works, farm subsidies, and food commodities distributed through ration shops. The system is rife with fraud: fake paper IDs, fake beneficiaries, and theft by middlemen preying on vulnerable, often illiterate people. The new harder to fake IDs are designed to alleviate these problems says a spokesman for India’s ruling party, the BJP, in the Capital ofDelhi.

SUDHANSHU TRIVEDI: 30 years back, when late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister of India, he has used a phrase: ‘When 100 rupees goes from Delhi, only 15 or 16 rupees reaches to the targeted poor.’ Now we have ensured that if 100 rupees goes from here, the entire 100 rupees directly reaches to the person concerned.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Given its promise of security and efficiency, the government recently decided to make Aadhaar mandatory for a growing number of financial transactions. Every bank account and tax return must now be linked to one’s biometric ID, and an Aadhaar number is now required to receive any welfare benefits.

AJAY BUSHAN PANDEY: The World Bank has estimated that if government of India uses Aadhaar in all its public welfare schemes, then annual savings would be to the tune of almost 11 billion dollars every year.

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: I think that the savings that the government claims which spring from Aadhaar are vastly exaggerated.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Opponents of Aadhaar, like columnist and editor Siddharth Varadarajan, were skeptical when it began as a voluntary program to Improve transparency in the welfare system. Now, they are alarmed. Varadarajan says a country where 300 million people — a quarter of the population — do not have reliable electricity is unprepared to take such a huge digital leap.

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: You need electricity 24/7, you need the Internet up and running 24/7, you need proper data speeds. So given the limitations of technology, given the absence of a privacy law, for the government to steamroller this kind of scheme, to my mind seems to be rather ill advised.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Internet service is at best sporadic in many parts of India, and in regions where Aadhaar IDs are now required, one recent report by a workers’ rights group found the system has done little to reduce corruption. Attorney Gautam Bhatia represents some Aadhaar opponents and citizen activists who’ve taken the government to court.

GAUTAM BHATIA: For example, if you are, say, a farmer in the rural areas, then say you are entitled to rations or to kerosene, for example, oil, and when that is based upon your biometric authentication, you have to go to the person who is authorized to authenticate you. And that person may simply say your authentication failed and not give you your entitlement, and then you are basically left without that for that one month, and in fact the report shows that many families have gone many months without access to very important, important, entitlements.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Bhatia says the new technology will not wipe out corruption but it has violated a basic tenet of democracy: privacy.

GAUTAM BHATIA: You’re giving the state centralized access to a very vast citizenry’s data, personal data. That is where the problem lies. You are fundamentally altering the relationship between the state and the individual. You are putting the individual in a position where her actions are visible in a certain way to the state, whereas we think that the relationship should be the other way around.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Already there have been several leaks of personal data. Aadhaar opponents worry rogue operators or hackers could steal biometric data like fingerprints, allowing Indians to be profiled for commercial or political purposes. But Aadhaar’s director says his agency’s systems are state of the art and privacy concerns are overblown. He adds, when the system authenticates a person, it does not keep any records of transactions.

AJAY BUSHAN PANDEY: Aadhaar also places restriction on merging of various data bases. So you cannot link the various databases and create a surveillance tool. Aadhaar Act provides a very strong protection against any such move, so any violation of the law will be taken very seriously.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Editor Varadarajan is not reassured, because, he says, the rule of law is frequently flouted by corrupt or incompetent officials.

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: If India was a better governed state, if the rule of law operated in a more transparent manner, half of these objections would vanish.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: When he was in the opposition, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Aadhaar a gimmick. But in power, he’s embraced it — insisting his government has built in privacy safeguards. And Modi wants to vastly expand its scope.

TV DEBATE: “The whole act was enacted for the purpose of passing on the subsidies more efficiently, not to convert a democratic country into a police state.”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Aadhaar has sparked robust debate on Indian news outlets like “Mirror Now” but not so much in the streets.

MAN: “It works…to open a bank account, it works…”
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In this poor section of Delhi, where almost everyone has an Aadhaar number, there’s been no controversy, because people told us they have far more basic worries.

WOMAN: “Nuksan nahi har lakin fayada bi nahi.”
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: “Nothing lost, nothing gained” with the new ID, this woman said, as she washed cans she’d fill with water as soon as the municipal tanker arrived. There’s no running water here. And this man complained ration shops often claim they are out of the subsidized rice and other essentials. India’s Supreme Court has affirmed the government’s right to link Aadhaar to welfare benefits and tax returns. But it has yet to rule on whether being forced to provide biometric information violates an individual’s right to privacy. When the court answers that question, the fate of the world’s largest single database of biometric information will be at stake.