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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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

11732 - Is profiling in India’s DNA? - Live Mint


The Narendra Modi govt is considering a DNA Profiling Bill, which if approved, will make India among the last large countries to adopt a fingerprinting bill


The draft DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017 permits processing of DNA samples and puts in place safeguards against the misuse of data. Photo: iStock

Even as the Supreme Court tackles the issue of privacy as a fundamental right, the government is considering a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) Profiling Bill.

India will be among the last large countries to adopt a DNA profiling or fingerprinting (also called DNA typing or testing) Bill. DNA profiling is a forensic technique used to identify individuals by characteristics of their DNA. DNA profiling is different from full genome sequencing.

A typical adult has over three billion characteristics in her DNA and only about a dozen characteristics (13 to be precise) are required for a DNA profiling database. A technique called the Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis is most widely used in forensic analysis. Over the last 25 years, most countries have adopted a DNA fingerprinting law and have developed databases for use primarily in criminal investigation, disaster identification and forensic science.

In 1985, Alec Jeffreys, a genetic researcher at the University of Leicester in the UK, first developed DNA profiling along with Peter Gill and David Werrett of the Forensic Science Service. 

They used the technique to demonstrate the innocence of a man being held for the rape/murder of two girls in Leicestershire. The constabulary then undertook an investigation in which more than 5,500 local men were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples. With a bit of luck and the newly developed DNA technique, they were finally able to uniquely identify the perpetrator of the crime—a local baker’s apprentice.

That successful conviction combined with rapid strides in DNA fingerprinting technology led to the setting up of the United Kingdom National DNA Database (NDNAD). The UK today maintains DNA profiles of nearly 7% of its citizens, representing the largest population proportion in the world. In sheer size, the largest DNA database was set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US—the Combined DNA Index System (or Codis). The database contains more than 12 million offender profiles, more than 2.5 million arrestee profiles and 750,000 forensic profiles.

The Codis database has aided in over 350,000 investigations and produced more than 365,000 hits.

When DNA profiling is used wisely, it can bring major benefits to society—by helping to convict serious criminals, connect seemingly unrelated crimes and possibly even preventing crime. It is also particularly useful in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Concerns can arise, however, when tissue samples, genetic information and personal data are stored indefinitely on a DNA database. There are fears that the government and the police may be able to misuse this data and threaten our individual rights as well as that of our families.

The draft DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017 permits processing of DNA samples and puts in place safeguards against the misuse of data. According to PRS Legislative Research, the key features of the draft Bill include: 

(i) Only for identification: DNA profiling would be undertaken exclusively for identification of a person and would not be used to extract any other information. Further, no bodily substances will be taken from a person unless consent is given for the same; 

(ii) DNA Profiling Board: A DNA Profiling Board will be constituted as a statutory body which will be responsible for supervising, monitoring, inspecting and assessing DNA laboratories; 

(iii) DNA Data Bank: The Bill proposes a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks (for the states). The data banks will be responsible for storing DNA profiles received from the accredited laboratories; 

and (iv) Penalties: The violators of the provisions would be liable for imprisonment which may extend up to three years and includes a fine.

A version of the draft Bill had been put out nearly two years ago for public comment by an expert committee constituted by the department of biotechnology (DBT). The Law Commission responded to a request for guidance on that report and released this latest version of the draft law earlier this month for Parliamentary consideration. The Law Commission report is comprehensive and deals with the legal context within which the draft Bill is set. Given that India’s draft Bill is coming nearly two decades after most others, the Bill is very conservative and “privacy” friendly. The release of the Law Commission draft has triggered a full range of reactions.

A proposed law on DNA typing has been in the works for nearly 15 years now. It is high time India went beyond “analysis/paralysis” and accepted a working version of the law that can be shaped by law and practice.

The probabilistic nature of DNA typing cannot be an argument against its adoption, particularly given that current methods of investigation can be even less reliable. DNA typing is not meant to replace other investigative techniques but to supplement them. In jurisprudence around the world over the last two decades, it is the combined investigative probability that has weighed strongly in favour of DNA profiling. The search for a “perfect law” has kept the entire subject ambiguous and at risk of being misused. It is better to adopt a law and improve upon it than to postpone it without setting a time limit.
P.S.: “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence,” said David Hume.

Narayan Ramachandran is chairman, InKlude Labs. Read Narayan’s Mint columns at www.livemint.com/avisiblehand
Comments are welcome at narayan@livemint.com