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

11691 - A critic’s case for Aadhaar: If our personal data is the ‘new oil’, pay us for it - Scroll.In


Our biometric and demographic information is being used by government and private entities for profiling and profiteering.

Noah Seelam/AFP
2 hours ago
Tathagata Satpathy


The Narendra Modi government claims that 99% of Indians above the age of 18 now have Aadhaar. Let’s accept this claim at face value. It means there is still 1% of the population that has not enrolled for the 12-digit unique identity number. I am one of them.

There are thousands of people like me who are resisting getting Aadhaar for various reasons. A key reason is the crippling fear that it violates our right to privacy and the confidentiality of our personal information. The fear is deepening as more and more “leaks” show that private corporate entities are freely accessing the Aadhaar data to create their own databases, which are not secured.

Why are corporates so interested in mining Aadhaar data? For one, as the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, which manages Aadhaar, said in a recent interview, Aadhaar can be used to create a “360-degree profile” of any individual. A top Indian industrialist went further, recently stating that “data is the new oil” that will lead the world into the fourth industrial revolution.

Clearly, India is a rich ground to harvest this new resource and profit heavily from. After all, this country is home to a seventh of humanity.

The industrialist’s words got me thinking. If data is indeed a resource like oil, should there not be a price to it?

The Supreme Court is now sitting to decide whether Indians have the right to privacy and whether Aadhaar violates that right. I doubt the court will give a clear judgement securing citizens’ personal data. It has not shown a conviction in recent years to deal with legal infractions. In any case, it is too late to hope the entire Aadhaar programme will be trashed.

Since we the citizens do not have the right to privacy – as the Modi government is arguing in the Supreme Court – and our data is anyway being used for profiling and profiteering, we should take the next step: we should declare everyone of us a commodity and demand a price from those interested in using us.

This is not unreasonable. If my data has monetary value for the state and private players, why should I not benefit from it? If it is the new oil and it is extracted from me, why should I not be paid for providing the resource?

Supporters of Aadhaar argue that if Facebook and Google take our data, why shouldn’t the Unique Identity Authority of India? The easy counter is that Aadhaar is not a private company and unlike Google and Facebook, it does not give me a choice of joining or not. Also, I can sign out of Google or Facebook, but not from Aadhaar.

The argument that I should be paid for my data, therefore, stands. And it holds fantastic possibilities: if a citizen’s personal data is a commodity that can be bought and sold like detergent or a pair of jeans, she can reasonably expect to benefit financially from any transactions involving her data.

Let’s talk money

Private contractors tasked with enrolling people for Aadhaar should buy the data at a price. They should pay a flat amount upfront to the person who is enrolling. I would suggest Rs 5 lakh for lifetime access to the data. Since morality, conviction and personal liberty matter little in the brave new world India is supposedly stepping into, I don’t think anyone would have a problem selling their soul for this amount.

If Rs 5 lakh is too much, then simply introduce Universal Basic Incomethrough Aadhaar. According to the Economic Survey of 2016-17, Universal Basic Income of Rs 12,000 per person per year would be optimal. If the government starts this program, it can gradually get rid of all other targeted welfare schemes. Aadhaar has anyway become an impediment in accessing social welfare schemes for a lot of people. By introducing a Universal Basic Income, the government can get rid of the social welfare net in one fell swoop instead of destroying it piecemeal.

Going up the chain, the Unique Identification Authority should reimburse the private contractor for the expenses incurred on enrolling a person. The authority itself can become a for-profit entity, buying and selling citizens’ data to whosoever wants it and transferring the money directly into the bank account of the person whose data is sold. Suppose a school asks for the data of a child for admission, the parent would get an alert on their phone: “School is requesting access to your child’s data. The price of data exchange is Rs 100 which will be credited to your bank account. This data will be used for maintaining a student database and attendance purposes. Do you accept?” If the parent agrees to the price, their child’s data will be shared by the Unique Identification Authority with the school.

Every transaction of data would be for a price, depending on the value the authority assigns it. Google currently earns $277 per unique user per month and Facebook $60. In return, they provide the user a host of free services, from maps to email to social media – unlike Aadhaar at present. A similar value can be assigned to every transaction of personal data facilitated by the authority. All contracts signed between the identification authority and private entities would be made public. This way, data would truly become the new oil.

Get over it, naysayers

Of course, many among us would feel incredulous and squeamish at the thought of monetising data in this manner. Well, our grandparents would never have imagined that water would one day be bottled and priced. It happened. The future is always full of possibilities.

We are routinely told that our personal data is safe with the Unique Identification Authority and there is no way it can be misused by government for surveillance and curbing dissent. If that is really the case, then I propose political parties should be allowed to buy this data if they want to use it for targeted campaigning. However, each voter whose data is used should be paid for it.

The discourse on Aadhaar is extremely polarised. While the government keeps making up stories about its benefits, the critics say it does more harm than good. The critics, myself included, need to evolve and ask the government to simply be open about the uses of Aadhaar data – make it transparent and incentivise people to give up their rights. Tell us citizens, whose fields you are extracting this new oil from, where you intend to sell it and give us a share of your huge profits. If we are being treated as commodities now, tell us that to our face. We may be willing to get used to the idea.

The river of Aadhaar data is flowing into an ocean of profit for government and private entities. We the citizens need to draw out a canal from it to irrigate our farms. Why should they have all the fun?

Tathagata Satpathy is a Lok Sabha MP from the Biju Janata Dal.