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

Monday, June 25, 2018



The IB Ministry is aiming to monitor, collect and analyse data across major social media platforms.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case filed against the government’s proposal of a Social Media Communications Hub- a proposal which, all at once, is reminiscent of Aadhaar, Cambridge Analytica and Snowden revelations of NSA surveillance. In other words, this is the latest privacy nightmare to hit India, before even the first draft of the Data Protection Bill is out, or the Aadhaar issue is resolved. The allegations include, on the one hand, violation of the right to privacy, and, on the other, violation of the right to freedom of speech.

The present case, as per reports, was filed by Trinamool Congress MP Mohua Moitra for an emergency hearing before the Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court, but the Bench directed that the case be heard once the Court reopens. Alternatively, the petitioners are to file the case before a High Court. Previously, the Internet Freedom Foundation sent a legal notice to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, asking for the tender put up for the Social Media Communications Hub be withdrawn.

Surveillance of social media platforms, e-mails, blogs
For those unfamiliar with the Social Media Communication Hub (the Hub), this is an initiative of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, aiming to monitor, collect and analyse data across all major social media platforms, and combine this with data from e-mails, news sites, blogs and complaint websites. The list of websites, which includes sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIN, Google+, etc., along with further details can be found in the tender issued a few months ago (See Page 28 onwards), inviting proposals for the software behind the Hub.

360 degree profiles, real time monitoring and comprehensive metadata
As per this tender, data from all these sources are to be collected and combined to create a 360 degree profile of a person. This includes identifying ‘influencers’ based on follower counts, recording and archiving conversations and messages, and tracking ‘customer’ loyalty and past behavior.
The platform is to have a New Media Command Room, which enables real time monitoring of such platforms and persons, in particular the influencers, customers, competitors and the like (there is no clarity as to who ‘customers’ or ‘competitors’ refers to). The tender specifies that the platform must be able to crawl every major website and the world wide web, for data mining. All this data, further, must be backed by location data and comprehensive metadata.
The profiling in question, is to be automated as well as manual.

Aim is to analyse the impact of governmental initiatives and campaigns
This NSA like surveillance has been proposed, not to tackle terrorism (as is commonly used), nor for the public good (as is argued for Aadhaar), but to enable the I&B Ministry to understand the impact of various social media campaigns conducted on various government schemes. The tool, further, is required to provide inputs on how to improve this campaigning and on how to make a topic trending. While this appears to be the primary aim of the Hub, some points mentioned in the tender indicate that the Hub is also to be used for crisis identification and management and reactive communication strategy. There is no clarity on what is considered to be a crisis here.

Gauging of people’s sentiment across global languages
For these purposes, the tool is further required to have features, including the analysis of the people’s sentiment towards a particular scheme; tracking of trends, topics and hashtags; monitoring of individual social media accounts as well as messages and tweets; among others. Further, this sentiment as well as context must be identifiable for a range of languages, including local languages like Telugu and Punjabi, and also foreign languages like French, Arabic, Chinese and German. It is clear that the scope of the surveillance to be carried out is not restricted to India. Further features, which are unclear, include the use of ‘customers’ identified through the Hub for targeted advertising.

‘Moulding’ of public perception
Next, the Hub is intended to enable ‘predictive analysis’, the details of which make it a concern, especially in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The analysis, as per the tender, is to include predictions of headlines and breaking news across various channels across the globe based on the channel’s leaning, business dealings, investors and so on; what would be public perception to such news; and how public perception can be moulded in a ‘positive manner for the country’.
It goes on to require predictions on how nationalistic feelings can be inculcated in the masses, how the perception management of India can be improved and how social media and internet news/ discussion can be given a positive slant for India. The Hub, further, is required to have publishing capabilities, allowing it to disseminate information, indicating the possible use of this dissemination for such purposes of moulding as well. The tender also mentions activities like requiring influencer activation, enabling communication and crisis management, and identifying sentiments based on location.
A new CIDR?- The Private Data Centre and the KMS
Further, the issue of the CIDR and the large scale storage of biometric data is yet to be resolved, yet this tender proposes a new database- a Private Data Centre, to be set up for backing up and archiving all the Hub’s related data and content. A Knowledge Management System is also to be set up, and while it is unclear exactly what this is to store, it is to be used for the creation, capture, management, delivery and archiving of large volumes of document and content, which includes scanned document images, electronic documents and e-mails. The tender also mentions that the Hub must function like a search engine, enabling the search and discovery of information related to, for example, a particular trend.

No meeting of tests laid down in Privacy Judgment
What is most surprising is that the launch of a project which, on such a large scale, invades the privacy and freedoms of the people, comes so close on the heels of the right to privacy verdict last year. The Puttaswamy judgment affirming the right to privacy laid down the following three tests to be met before the right to privacy could be invaded- first, there must be a law, second, there must be legitimate purpose to be met, and third, the infringement of privacy must be proportional to the purpose sought to be met.
Yet, none of these conditions are met. The proposed Hub, based on information publicly available, has no basis on any law. Further, while no purpose justifies mass surveillance (as has also been pointed out by the Supreme Court itself in the Puttaswamy judgment, as well in the PUCL case on telephone tapping), the purpose suggested for the set up of the Hub, alongwith the scale of privacy invasion, simply cannot justify this project.

Impact on a person’s rights
To give a simple example, the analysis proposed by the Hub will easily include political opinion, an issue considered to be highly sensitive personal data, including in privacy legislations such as the GDPR. Such data will not only be collected and analysed by the government, ‘loyalty’ and ‘behaviour’ of the person will be analysed and recorded, and all of which will be archived and searchable. Moreover, efforts will be directed to modify this person’s opinion, to give it a ‘positive’ or nationalistic slant. A person’s basic right to hold an opinion, express it, change his mind, or to even delete a post is also lost.
The tender, further, far from discussing anonymizing this data, requires identification of people. Consent makes no mention anywhere. To make matters worse, as per the Internet Freedom Foundation, the government has earmarked a budget of 42 crores for this.

Several questions raised on a person’s right to privacy

A project of this scale has major implications, for privacy, and for the freedom of speech. A legal battle against this can easily be expected to go along the same lines as Aadhaar, but hopefully not for as many years as the Aadhaar case. This use brings out several questions, on what uses the government intends to put people’s data to, on whether the data protection law will be able to protect people from such uses, and whether, in the forthcoming age, people will have any control, at all, over their own data. A lot, thus, depends on the decision of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Aadhaar case, and on the Justice Sri Krishna Committee report on Data Protection.