Aadhaar

The UIDAI has taken two successive governments in India and the entire world for a ride. It identifies nothing. It is not unique. The entire UID data has never been verified and audited. The UID cannot be used for governance, financial databases or anything. It’s use is the biggest threat to national security since independence. – Anupam Saraph 2018

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 scholarUsha Ramanathandescribes 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

In the Supreme Court, Meenakshi Arora, one of the senior counsel in the case, compared it to living under a general, perpetual, nation-wide criminal warrant.

Had never thought of it that way, but living in the Aadhaar universe is like living in a prison. All of us are treated like criminals with barely any rights or recourse and gatekeepers have absolute power on you and your life.

Announcing the launch of the#BreakAadhaarChainscampaign, culminating with events in multiple cities on 12th Jan. This is the last opportunity to make your voice heard before the Supreme Court hearings start on 17th Jan 2018. In collaboration with @no2uidand@rozi_roti.

UIDAI's security seems to be founded on four time tested pillars of security idiocy

1) Denial

2) Issue fiats and point finger

3) Shoot messenger

4) Bury head in sand.

God Save India

Friday, January 26, 2018

12781 - Aadhaar's new security measures are good, it is still work in progress - Business Standard


Here's a rundown of the three new features that the UIDAI will introduce to make Aadhaar seemingly more secure
Alnoor Peermohamed  |  Bengaluru 
Last Updated at January 25, 2018 00:33 IST



While public pressure over the security of Aadhaar might have forced the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to introduce new features such as face authentication, virtual ID and limited KYC, experts who have worked on the system say such updates are incremental and need to keep happening.

Be it Google, Facebook or Aadhaar, a digital system serving billions of people needs to remain secure for which it continually has to evolve, sometimes adapting to issues that are found. The three new features will certainly help improve security, but many questions still remain over how the UIDAI will tackle the recently highlighted issue of rogue Aadhaar agents.

An article in the Tribune newspaper which claimed that Aadhaar information of individuals was on sale for as little as Rs 500, sparked off the biggest security scare against the digital identity keeper in a while. Even though the UIDAI asserted that its systems had not been breached, proof that Aadhaar details of an individual could be bought had been delivered. The agency has also not inspired confidence among public and security researchers with the way it has responded to Aadhaar data that has been put in public domain in violation of privacy of individuals.



"As an economy and an ecosystem, we have to understand that there is no such thing as a 100 percent secure system. When it was on paper it was not secure and now that it is digital, it is not a 100 percent secure. Security gaps may exist, but those should not cause large-scale theft of people's identity or cause significant damage. It's an arms race and this means that Aadhaar has to improve constantly," says Lalitesh Katragadda, former head of Google's product centre in India who has helped build Aadhaar.
Here's a rundown of the three new features that the UIDAI will introduce to make Aadhaar seemingly more secure:
Face Auth
Face Authentication or 'Face Auth' is an additional biometric that the UIDAI will roll out in order to cut down on the number of failed attempts which is increasingly being highlighted as an issue. By matching a user's face, captured through a camera at the time of authentication to the image of their face which was taken at the time of Aadhaar enrolment, the identity of an individual can be more accurately verified.
Facial recognition in the consumer landscape has once again been popularised by Apple's latest iPhone X device that uses an array of sensors and infrared light to map a person's face in three dimensions. The company claims this is more accurate than its previous fingerprint-based TouchID technology, but this isn't the case with UIDAI's facial recognition technology.
The UIDAI will utilise webcams and low-end hardware to enable Face Auth and therefore the conscious decision to use a person's face in conjunction to another layer of authentication - fingerprint, iris scan or a one-time password sent to the user's registered mobile device was taken.
How exactly applications built on Aadhaar will utilise this new Face Auth feature is not known yet, and neither are the technical specifications. Srikanth Nadhamuni, the former Chief Technology Officer of Aadhaar, envisions a scenario where a farmer using Aadhaar to get his PDS witnesses a failure to authenticate using his fingerprint, prompting the application to capture his photo and check whether it matches with the existing photo on the UIDAI's database.
Activists, however, point out that it's far easier to fake facial recognition software, which in some cases get fooled into giving out positives by simply holding photos of the user in front of a camera. "At the end of the day your face is again biometric, and that comes with the same host of issues that are plaguing the other biometrics that has so far been used," says Sunil Abraham, Executive at Bengaluru-based think tank Centre for Internet and Society (CIS).
Virtual ID
As its name suggests, Virtual ID gives users a stand-in for their 12-digit Aadhaar number if they're worried that it will be stolen, leaked online or misused in any way. Any Aadhaar user will be able to log into an online portal, visit an Aadhaar enrollment centre or use the mAadhaar app to generate a 16-digit Virtual ID.
By virtue, the UIDAI has built the Virtual ID to be temporary and a user can ask for any number of Virtual IDs - when a new one is generated, the old one is destroyed and can even be assigned to another user. The key here is that only the UIDAI will be able to make the link to a Virtual ID and Aadhaar number and no-one else.
After years of arguing that leaking of the Aadhaar number itself wasn't an issue, the UIDAI is finally giving users a tool that allows them to keep their Aadhaar number private. While Abraham agrees that the feature will make Aadhaar safer, he says its effectiveness will only be valid if a user opts in as it has not been made a feature by design.
Nadhamuni argues on the contrary, that making Virtual ID a mandatory process would hurt more people than it helps. "A lot of people in rural India are using their Aadhaar for authentication of PDS and MNREGA and so on and it's working for them.
You don't want to confuse all of them and ask them to create yet another number. You'd have to make a farmer understand the concept of Virtual ID when he's completely happy with the way things are today," he says.
Limited KYC
The process of KYC (Know Your Customer) through Aadhaar has all along given public bodies and private companies access to a user's details such as name, age, sex, address and photograph. With limited KYC, the UIDAI will categorise a body seeking aadhaar details into two buckets, ones that get the full information and ones with whom only partial information is shared.
Realising that not all bodies or companies need all the Aadhaar details, is the biggest change that Limited KYC will bring in. The idea is that the fewer places a person's Aadhaar details are stored, the fewer chances of it leaking. Moreover, by giving only critical services full Aadhaar details the UIDAI is hoping it will eliminate its problem of having to share details with less secure systems.
Limited KYC will also bring in a tokenized system for agencies to ensure uniqueness while not storing a user's Aadhaar number on their databases. A 72 digit alphanumeric UID Token will be generated at the time of authentication which only UIDAI will be able to map back to a particular Aadhaar number. However, there isn't clarity on who will be exempt from this as there is word that banks and tax authorities will be allowed to store user Aadhaar numbers.
The UID Tokens will also be backdated, meaning all previous KYC attempts a user had made with a particular body or company will also be migrated to the new system, ensuring that if two databases leak, the perpetrators are not able to easily use Aadhaar numbers to match users and improve the quality of the data they've stolen. Some details on this are still missing though.
Security: Work in Progress
Experts who worked on building Aadhaar say that such features were discussed during the very inception of the national biometric database, but were not rolled out until now to avoid complexity. Katragadda, who has worked on building many large APIs at Google agrees that all large systems avoid complexity during the kickoff and add them based on needs of users later.
Like him, both Nadhamuni and even Abraham agree that the new features will make Aadhaar more secure, while the latter had his reservations on how secure it would be which only the fine print would reveal. The experts also agree that the public discourse which Aadhaar security has taken is a good thing, since the digital security of over a billion people is now public discussion.
"Security breaches are like earthquakes. It's better to have many tiny tremors than be oblivious to gaps in our system and lose everything with that one massive earthquake. So it's better to have our ears close to the ground, have ethical hacking competitions where we ask people to hack the Aadhaar system, find gaps in security. The best APIs in the world do this," says Katragadda.
He adds that India should not be scared to build large digital systems for public good in the fear that there will be security breaches. Even the paper based system before Aadhaar had several security lapses, but were not visible. "Otherwise we need to have this holy grail of a system which is perfectly automated and we're at least 20 years away from full robotics," he adds.



First Published: Thu, January 25 2018. 00:32 IST