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.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

11720 - Privacy In Age Of Publicity - Shillong Times


Wanted Data Protection

By Public On Aug 3, 2017

By S.Saraswathi

The Union Government has taken a stand in the Supreme Court that privacy is indeed a fundamental right, but a “wholly qualified one”. Arguing before a  9-judge Constitutional   Bench it contended that  not every aspect of the  right to privacy is a fundamental right and it depends on a case to case basis.
The UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) which is implementing Aadhaar informed the Court that the Government had constituted a committee of experts  headed by a former Supreme Court judge  to draft a Data Protection Bill.

Consequently, the  pressure of  arguments to establish  privacy  as  unrestricted  fundamental right,  which if acceded,  would  jeopardize the Aadhaar  project  which is  in full swing.  The Bench is presently examining the question of privacy on a referral from a 5-judge Bench hearing the Aadhaar case.

Importantly, privacy  or the “right to be left alone” is classified as only  a  common law right which can be subjected to State intervention. Predictably, the Government finds itself in a mess vis-à-vis handling the legal issue of the right to privacy arising from the use of Aadhaar  card as identity. 

It is practically pushed to emerge unblemished out of its own  contradictory stand on the question and rectify the situation  in such a way  as to preserve individual rights and carry on with   Aadhaar.

The Apex and the Government are faced with a conflicting situation regarding the limits of the right to privacy about democratic liberties, the incredible growth of data generation and dissemination techniques and  consequent  blurring of lines between private and public spheres.

Remember, the Aadhaar case arose out of a petition filed by a group of students alleging that a contract entered into between  Facebook  and instant messaging WhatsApp  in 2016  was a violation of the citizen’s right to privacy as the data exchanged included personal information. 

The Government argued that any infringement of personal data would amount to infringement on right to life which is a fundamental right. This right is now being considered further by the Constitution Bench to fix limits of the right to privacy and the power of State intervention.  This is urgent as Aadhaar is being used as proof of identity for various purposes.
Notably, Aadhaar contains vital personal details like date of birth, sex, address, finger prints, iris scan, photo etc to provide complete identity of a person. Bio-metric or physiological characteristics collected for it are unique to individuals and reliable for identity and hence raise concerns about their ultimate use and storage security.

Moreover, the Aadhaar  project has drawn  assistance of private contractors and gone on without specific consent of citizens who have furnished personal data san even knowledge of its possible uses and misuses.

The right to privacy was first recognized in the US in 1890 by Warren and Brandies who described it as “the right to be left alone – the most comprehensive and the most valued by civilized men”.   It has always defied strict legal definition. In many countries, the concept has been fused with data protection in  which  privacy is interpreted  in terms of management  of personal information.

 The US Supreme Court first recognized the Constitutional right of privacy drawn from the Bill of Rights on protecting the security of home and person as well as freedom of association in 1965. The Court struck down a State law prohibiting the use of contraceptives by a married couple. 

However, right to privacy is not an enumerated right under the American Constitution.  It remains an indirect right as invasion into privacy is made a “statutory wrong”.

The Australian Government passed the Federal   Privacy Act in 1988 to protect personal and official information. It incorporates certain privacy principles to give individuals access to information collected about them.  

The law adopted in Peru which expressly guarantees freedom of expression and personal privacy is considered strongest in protecting privacy — a rather vague right — broadly in line with international standards.

Germany has what is termed the right to “informational self-determination” and has also adopted data privacy legislation supposedly one of the strictest law in this field in the European Union.

When the Indian Constitution was written, the right to privacy was debated mainly as a right to protect personal liberty and to prevent unlawful search and seizure in the chapter on Fundamental Rights.   In 1954, the Supreme Court confirmed  that the right to privacy is not recognized in the Constitution as a Fundamental Right.

However, in 1962 the Apex Court unanimously ruled that the right to privacy was integral to right to life and in 1994 put this right as part of personal liberty. This was reiterated in 1996 and further extended to the right to communication with an order that the said right could not be curtailed except according to the procedure established by law.

Certain guidelines were also laid down by the Court. Thus, no law has been passed and the term “privacy” has also remained undefined. 
    
Indeed, the right to privacy has never been strong in India in law or practice. The Declaration of Human Rights (1948)  which  protects territorial and communications privacy  and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) which specifically   contains the right to privacy are often cited as proof of India’s adherence to the right to privacy.  But, they are not effective defenders of this right though India is party to these international instruments.  

Interestingly, collection and retention of bio-metric data are impermissible in UK and France. Threat to privacy posed by creation of massive centralized databases has led to shelving of Aadhaar-like programmes in these countries.

No democratic Government is interested in intruding into the privacy of its citizens for fun. It wants data about its citizens and residents for public and social purposes.  The centre of the controversy is about the safety of the data collected and preserved centrally.

Arguably, privacy consciousness is rather low in India compared to western countries. Indian institutions like joint family, temple festivals, marriage celebrations and community life do not encourage privacy.

In such an environment the threat to privacy in Aadhaar   has to be seen from the angle of threat to nation’s security, leakage of information to unfriendly countries and terrorist organizations, possible thefts and impersonation etc. These are real and dangerous and  have to be guarded against much more than vague attachment to personal data.  

Therefore, our problem is to devise a foolproof data security system and utilization of data strictly for the purposes envisaged and approved by competent authorities. The responsibility of the Government and its agencies including contractors engaged in the Aadhaar project and in protecting databases is immense and needs to be watched. 

While linking Aadhaar with PAN and ration cards in many cases several mistakes are exposed causing repetition of the exercise. The project must be conducted efficiently. The data generated belong to the nation and must be carefully protected. —- INFA

(The writer is former Director, ICSSR, New Delhi)