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.


Monday, August 7, 2017

11729 - Rhodes scholar to Carnatic singer, meet 4 young lawyers in privacy fight - Indian Express

Rhodes scholar to Carnatic singer, meet 4 young lawyers in privacy fight

(From left) Gautam Bhatia, Prasanna S, Kritika Bhardwaj and Apar Gupta outside the Supreme Court. Tashi Tobgyal

Prasanna believes that technology ruling lives can only be deemed as fair if it is “proveably so and nothing in Aadhaar has been able to convince me of that”.

Written by Seema Chishti 
New Delhi | Updated: August 7, 2017 10:11 am

AS THE Supreme Court examines whether privacy is a fundamental right, a community of young lawyers has taken it upon themselves to spread the word — that the right to privacy is “non-negotiable”. So, from sitting through every court hearing to live-tweeting proceedings, from taking on the Centre when it argues that the Constitution does not provide for privacy as a fundamental right to breaking down the web of legalese around the debate, these lawyers are trying to help shape the architecture that will govern Indian lives in the age of unique IDs, technology and machines.

Prasanna S, Apar Gupta, and Kritika Bhardwaj are assisting senior counsel Shyam Divan, who is representing four privacy petitioners, including Shanta Sinha, the former head of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and Magsaysay awardee Bezwada Wilson. Gautam Bhatia is assisting another senior lawyer, Arvind Datar, who is arguing for the Election Commission and for privacy as a fundamental right.
There are seven petitioners in the case with at least 12 active counsel in the matter before the nine-judge bench.

Prasanna S, 34
The Hosur-born, Tamil-speaking Prasanna sees nothing exceptional about his transition from the world of software to the thickets of Constitutional law four years ago. “Many technologists have moved to fields like investment banking. No questions are asked of them,” says Prasanna, now an independent, Delhi-based lawyer. Prasanna, who is also a trained Carnatic singer, believes his background in software and technology gives him “at least the vocabulary to understand new challenges to civil liberties”.

“Many technologists have moved to fields like investment banking. No questions are asked of them,” says Prasanna, now an independent, Delhi-based lawyer. Prasanna, who is also a trained Carnatic singer, believes his background in software and technology gives him “at least the vocabulary to understand new challenges to civil liberties”.

He says the general lack of opposition among the public to ideas such as Aadhaar, the unique ID programme that is at the core of the privacy debate, stems from a “fascination with technology” and a belief “that if it is a machine, it will make correct choices”.

Nothing could be more flawed, he says. “I can see through that clearly, being fully aware of how technology can have design limitations,” says Prasanna. In the case of biometrics, Prasanna says, “With an error-rate higher than 10 per cent, if this flawed technology rejects the population the size of the state of Bihar as being ineligible for rations, what is to be done? Is that acceptable?”

Prasanna believes that technology ruling lives can only be deemed as fair if it is “proveably so and nothing in Aadhaar has been able to convince me of that”.

right to privacy, privacy as fundamental right, Supreme Court on privacy fundamental right, Aadhaar card compulsion, aadhar act, latest news, india news, indian express The lawyers photographed on the central lawns of the Supreme Court in New Delhi. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Gautam Bhatia, 28
The Rhodes scholar is also a sci-fi geek. He edits Strange Horizons, a UK-based science-fiction magazine, and is now looking at post-colonial science-fiction. One of the lawyers on senior counsel Datar’s team, he is among the leading voices in the privacy debate, even live-tweeting the apex court’s proceedings. Bhatia was studying for a degree in legal philosophy at Yale when WikiLeaks broke, followed by Edward Snowden’s revelations in June 2013. In December 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a law against surveillance and Bhatia took a train to the New York district court to hear ACLU fight the US National Security Agency for two-and-a-half hours.

After he returned to India, his alma-mater, the National Law School in Bengaluru, asked him to do a paper on surveillance in the Indian context. To Bhatia, that was a “golden moment”, when his academic pursuits and events at home and abroad got him interested in data, meta-data and privacy concerns. Bhatia believes that Aadhaar in itself is not a surveillance mechanism, but has the “potential” to be one. “If information is in different silos, the seeding of databases is okay, but the minute you combine it, then you are very well placed to be a perfect surveillance state,” he says.

Gautam speaks of how metadata gives you a deeper insight into people than actual data. “If you tape my phone conversation, you get data, but if you know who I called, who I had coffee with, visited a doctor, a divorce consultant and a physiotherapist… that gives you much more data to map me with near perfection,” says Bhatia, who is the author of Offend, Shock or Disturb: Free Speech Under the Indian Constitution.

So what is an ideal right to privacy law? “Any law on privacy has to be founded on principles of informed consent and specific consent. Informed consent means the person is aware of what use it’s being put to and specific consent means that the authorities must seek consent for each specific act.”

Gautam thinks a national political culture that does not value privacy can only go one way. “Look at history — societies where privacy is devalued become totalitarian. East Germany, with its Stasi (Ministry of State Security that carried out mass surveillance), was not a strong state, but a state where the national political culture is such that privacy does not count, becomes a surveillance state,” he says.

Gautam believes that violation of privacy enables discrimination. “Bezwada Wilson has spoken of how manual scavengers do not want to be identified, nor do people like trafficked women who have been freed. Too much data about citizens with the state is anti-democratic.”

right to privacy, privacy as fundamental right, Supreme Court on privacy fundamental right, Aadhaar card compulsion, aadhar act, latest news, india news, indian express There are seven petitioners in the case with at least 12 active counsel in the matter before the nine-judge bench. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Apar Gupta, 33
@Aparatbar is a familiar Twitter handle to serious followers of the privacy and data debate in India. Gupta says he operates in the space between the “polar worlds of rockstar litigant Harish Salve and Prashant Bhushan, who does public interest litigation”.
A product of Columbia Law School and before that, Mount St Mary’s school in Delhi, Gupta says, “It is true society will be incredibly digital, but if you divorce it from civil rights and constitutionality, you will get something very unjust. We want to push this back.”

So why would governments want Aadhaar to be made compulsory when they have passports and PANs? “There is an administrative fetish, which is fed by Aadhaar. (Governments) get a digital dashboard and are able to create the illusion that they are administering efficiently. It’s on a good-faith basis to some degree, but all digitisation is not good. Digital IDs by themselves have resulted in savings, but that has been without Aadhaar. Conservative estimates are that nearly Rs 11,000 crore has been spent on Aadhaar,” he says.

Kritika Bharadwaj, 26
She is currently reading three books: Delete, on the Right to be Forgotten, The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir and Seven Minutes, a courtroom thriller. But Kritika, a political science graduate from LSR, went on to do an LLB from Delhi University’s Faculty of Law and later Masters from Cambridge in Information Law. But even before her Masters, she had cut her teeth on Aadhaar-related matters and done meticulous research on international laws, biometrics, international practices, protocols and databases in the world.

“We were shocked by the Centre’s arguments that privacy is not a fundamental right. We had prepared things pertinent to Aadhaar, of projects, exclusion and biometrics. But when the government made this plea, we all sat up and decided to help push this back,” she says.

Yet, she says, the “real challenge to us is the ‘so what’ challenge. “So what if privacy is violated, people say. We are still trying to address that convincingly,” she says. “My understanding and study tells me that the real worry is that the citizen does not even know what the government knows about him and how it will be used against the citizen. That is a lot of information asymmetry. Also, with so much data about everyone, there is implicit, a presumption of guilt of each citizen,” she says.