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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

13617 - The new Luddites’ paranoia - Indian Express

Critics of Aadhaar are raising an alarm based on unfounded concerns.


Written by Ajay Bhushan Pandey | Updated: May 29, 2018 12:18:25 am

 The fear of a threat to privacy because of the use of core biometrics (fingerprints and iris) in Aadhaar is exaggerated because biometrics are not secret information like PIN or password.

The article by Jean Dreze, ‘Know your Aadhaar’, (IE, May 8) seeks to raise four privacy concerns arising from the threat of hacking of core biometrics, leakage of Aadhaar number and sharing of demographic information with service providers and finally, state surveillance. With due respect, these concerns are wholly unfounded.

The fear of a threat to privacy because of the use of core biometrics (fingerprints and iris) in Aadhaar is exaggerated because biometrics are not secret information like PIN or password. People must know that even the theft of biometrics in a rare eventuality will not put one to the same level of risk as the leakage of a password. Critics try to raise an unnecessary fear about biometrics and use it to attack Aadhaar. They forget that we use thumbprints for many purposes such as registration of documents, passports, driving licence, affidavits, etc. Similarly, physical signatures too fall into the category of biometrics. We all widely use our physical signatures to authenticate documents and transactions. Have the critics shunned the use of physical thumb prints and signatures? We continue to use them because there are additional checks in the system. For example, when I issue a high-value cheque, my bank calls me to confirm whether I signed it. Similar due diligence needs to be followed for Aadhaar verification.

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Critics also try to raise an alarm about biometric information being leaked from the Aadhaar database. As explained above, even though the biometric information is not a secret information and its leakage might have relatively limited damage potential, UIDAI has taken and will continue to take measures to ensure that its database remains secure. During the last eight years, there has not been a single instance of a biometric data breach from the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR). But to say that because somebody may possibly hack the CIDR and, therefore, as a nation, we should not use biometrics is a manifestation of extreme paranoia.
Critics are under the incorrect impression that Aadhaar is a confidential number and term any publication thereof a security breach. There exists a distinction between a secret number and sensitive personal information (SPI) and, also, that SPI is not secret information. Aadhaar, just like a bank account number or PAN, is not secret. It is a piece of SPI whose unauthorised public disclosure is prohibited under the law to protect overall privacy. However, it is also an identity number which needs to be freely shared as and when required. Bank account numbers and signatures are on every cheque. Can somebody hack into someone’s bank account just by knowing his account number or Aadhaar number alone? One would need a password, OTP, PIN, fingerprints etc.

The article also asserts that UIDAI has a weak consent clause, which it uses to freely share people’s data with service providers. Drawing a parallel with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and referring to Aadhaar being “a drill to new oil”, demonstrates a complete lack of understanding. Critics must first know what personal data UIDAI stores and then question the so-called danger of sharing or data mining. Contrary to the massive real-time personal data which social media companies amass, UIDAI keeps minimal data of a person — name, address, date of birth, photo (which are publicly available in telephone directories, voter lists, etc.) and biometrics. UIDAI does not collect or keep personal details such as one’s assets, bank details, call records, caste, religion, family tree, friends’ list, health information, likes and dislikes etc. Even though one links Aadhaar with telecom, banks, passport, etc, UIDAI under the Aadhaar Act is prohibited from seeking the purpose and/or the location of any transactions. If one were to accept Dreze’s fear about data mining through such minimal data, then the first casualty will be the publication of voters’ list, which has far greater demographic details.

Critics also accuse Aadhaar of creating an unprecedented infrastructure of state surveillance. They need to ask themselves whether mandatory usage of Social Security Number (SSN) in the United States in areas such as food stamps, bank accounts, financial aid, subsidised housing, birth registrations, death certificates, healthcare benefits has turned that country into a surveillance state. One may argue that there are safeguards in the US which prevent data aggregation. Similarly, India as the world’s largest democracy has a strong legislature, independent judiciary and free press which prevent any such attempt or overreach by the executive. The Parliament brought in the Aadhaar Act in 2016 with strong safeguards to eliminate the possibility of any state surveillance. The Aadhaar Act is based on the principle of privacy by design — minimal data, federated databases and optimal ignorance — which in turn ensure that no agency, UIDAI, government or private, is able to aggregate Aadhaar information from various sources to track or profile any individual. Bill Gates has rightly commented that Aadhaar in itself does not pose any privacy issue because it is just a bio-ID verification scheme.

Finally, the above concerns raised by the conscientious objectors of Aadhaar remind us of the arguments that the Luddites gave while opposing Industrial Revolution. We must realise that we are moving towards a digital society where technology will have a far greater role than before. What is needed is mitigation of risk, if any, rather than an abrogation of technology, otherwise, as a nation, we will be the big loser. We were left out of Industrial Revolution because our country was not independent then, but we would not like to miss the bus this time.

The writer is CEO, UIADI.
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