Aadhaar: If you have tears, why shed them for the UID?

When asked how Nilekani-led UIDAI could let foreign companies get their hands on the data, we are told that they had no means of knowing that they are foreign companies! Why, then, are there those who mourn the disintegrating and, hopefully, the demise of this project?

Here is a question for those who retain their faith in the unique identification (UID) project: what is it about the project that has them believe that it should, somehow, be salvaged?
 

In December 2011, the parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance (SCoF) returned the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010, and recommended that the UID project be sent back to the drawing board. On 23 September 2013 the Supreme Court directed that no one may be denied any service only because they do not have a UID number; and, when the order was deliberately disregarded, the Court ordered the government to withdraw the instructions that made the UID mandatory. That was on 24 March 2014. On 21 February 2014, the Petroleum Ministry delinked the UID from LPG subsidy. That is, all three organs of state – the Parliament, the judiciary and the executive - have been remarkably unenthusiastic about this project.
 

The project was marketed as an innocuous game changer. It would provide an identity to every person, especially the poor; and that would lead to plugging leakages and curbing corruption. The touching innocence of this claim has not managed to keep off questions about the consequences of databasing an entire citizenry, the implications of not having a law that covers the project, privacy and personal security, surveillance, data security, flawed processes, unrestrained outsourcing, the unseemly ambitions it provokes in police agencies to get the data into their hands ….. the list keeps growing.
 

By now it is plain that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has had little patience with either process or law. Here are some illustrations:
 

The UIDAI was not established to create a database of its own. It was “to limit its activities to creation of the initial database from the Electoral Roll/ EPIC data and verification and validation of the same through BPL and PDS data and updation of electoral rolls.” This was the decision of the EGoM, which met on 4 November 2008 to decide what would be in the notification dated 28 January 2009 that set up the UIDAI. There are multiple databases within the government that carry identity information, and the UIDAI was to work at building a cleaned up identity database from existing databases. The EGoM was categorical: that the “UIDAI may not directly undertake creation of any additional database….”
 

Yet, once Nandan Nilekani had been appointed Chairperson of the UIDAI in July 2009, a Cabinet Committee on the UID was formed with the Prime Minister as the Chairperson, which gave him the go ahead to create his own data base, independent of other governmental data bases. First, it was allowed 100 million enrolments; then 200 million. Then in an inexplicable, and still unexplained, twist after the Home Minister had found their process faulty and unreliable, it was extended to 600 million. In the first four years, any time that either Mr Nilakeni or RS Sharma, the UIDAI’s first Director General, was asked where they got the legal authority to take the personal data of people, they would point to the 2011 notification as the source of legality for this exercise. This was, of course, not true at all. They were in fact breaching the boundaries the notification had set for them. It is also interesting that Mr Nilekani had started proclaiming, very early in the exercise, even before he had been given the mandate, that the UIDAI would enroll 600 million people by 2014.
 

Mr Nilekani was a man in a hurry. What resulted was rampant outsourcing, untested processes (including the introducer system), brushing aside concerns about the possibilities and improbabilities of biometrics across a population and across time, and doing away with the imperative of legality. He says he has got his 600 million people. May be. And, again, maybe not. But should such callous discarding of the process and law not matter because it was Nandan Nilekani? Should corporate icons not be restricted by law or process? These are not just rhetorical questions, but arise from the extraordinary treatment given to a collateral entrant into government.
 

Biometrics
 

Nandan Nilakeni used three terms to describe the UID project – unique, universal, ubiquitous. Uniqueness was dependent on biometrics. The decision to use fingerprints and iris was made before the UIDAI had any means of knowing whether biometrics could work in India. This is what they said in the “notice inviting applications for hiring of biometrics consultant” in January/ February 2010 after they had decided on fingerprints and iris: “While the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) documents the fact that the accuracy of biometric matching is extremely dependent on demographics and environmental conditions, there is a lack of a sound study that documents the accuracy achievable on Indian demographics (i.e., larger percentage of rural population) and in Indian environmental conditions (i.e., extremely hot and humid climates and facilities without air-conditioning).” In fact, it went on, “we could not find any credible study assessing the achievable accuracy in any of the developing countries.”
 

Two years later, Mr Nilekani was to say, in his talk at the World Bank in April 2013: “nobody has done this before, so we are going to find out soon whether it will work or not”.
 

But Brutus is an honourable man.
 

If the UID number will be on a range of databases, and it can act as a bridge between different silos of information, what does it do about intrusive curiosity? This is how Nandan Nilakeni thinks the UID number should be deployed. In a conversation with Vinod Khosla, and as reported on the NASSCOM website, he said: “There can be an entire Aadhaar- based reputation system in the country”, adding that “besides a credit history, the UID number could also help build health or skills records of Indians”. And this is just the beginning.
 

The UIDAI says enrolment is `voluntary’ while working to make it mandatory – that will swell its data base, fast. It has gone to the Court in the cases that challenge the project and iterated and reiterated the claim that it is voluntary; but, when the Court said, okay, then we will just say that it is voluntary, the UIDAI pleaded with the Court that agencies be allowed to `insist’ on the UID.
 

The UIDAI sounds like it will be providing a service, but it is openly pursuing a revenue model which will profit from our data. There is talk of security of data; but the data is handed over to be managed by companies that are close to the CIA, Homeland Security and the French government. And, when asked how they could let foreign companies of such provenance get their hands on the data, we are told that they had no means of knowing that they are foreign companies!
 

Why, then, are there those who mourn the disintegrating and, hopefully, the demise of this project?

 

You may also want to read…
 

UID/Aadhaar series

 

Aadhaar: Private ownership of UID data- Part I

 

Aadhaar: Who owns the UID database? –Part II

 

(Dr Usha Ramanathan is an independent law researcher and has been critically following the policy and practices of the UIDAI since 2009)

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COMMENTS

Mahesh S Bhatt

5 years ago

Our lawmakers have so many laws & so poor implementation records that courts are having pile up backlog of more than 30 years across India.

Friends this is blatant Security violation but Indian Telecom sector doesnot have good safety security measures to protect ISP's & Database servers from hacks.

Google cooly captures our street details & uploads on thier GPS services which we shall pay as our cops are busy collecting haftas / towing vehicles unreasonably.

Simple law on fine on spitting /urination should have been addressed by local municipal sanitation support like waste paper basket/toliet's.

Mumbai Municipality claims to have 1500 crores reserves but no MLC thinks of the same.Sulabh Sauchalaya is good private NGO bearing the load & its wilting.

Simple suggestion every bridge should have 2 sanitation toilet's.

M R BANTWAL

5 years ago

Mr Nandaan Nilekani has spent few crores on making UID Numbers. Indeed it is desastrous, The Government and Moily Petroleum Minister has rolled back the subsidy on LPG, after giving 12 cylinders from 9 i a year. What is the benefit to the Government. Setting up committees and eGoms and then cancelling them. Those committees do not meet once during their tenure of 3 or 6 months but they earn money and go home happily. The the Govt, increases the prices of everything to earn more revenue to the Govt to spend it lavisgly

Mandar Kulkarni

5 years ago

UID Aadhaar has been a disaster for India. It does not serve any national interest, it serves interests of foreign intelligence agencies. Aadhaar is threat to national security. It is illegal and has no scientific/technological foundation to it. It has been a huge wastage of money so far. UPA government and all those responsible for imposting this scheme on us should be made accountable to recover some of the losses. #SayNoToUID . Next govt is likely to scrap this project completely by removing any budget allocated to this.

Korath

5 years ago

When most of the 3 lakh crore subsidies are leaked out the author has no issue. However, she is bothered about 99.9999% plus accuracy of Aadhaar. Her question is why is Aadhaar not 100% accurate? She chooses different scales for different identities by design or by default? Doesn't have any problem with Asaram Bapu having hundreds of Bank accounts? But the author is a honorable woman.

REPLY

David Moss

In Reply to Korath 5 years ago

1. Korath says “When most of the 3 lakh crore subsidies are leaked out the author has no issue. However, she is bothered about 99.9999% plus accuracy of Aadhaar. Her question is why is Aadhaar not 100% accurate?”.

2. Nice try, Korath, but no cigar.

3. Usha Ramanathan has said nothing of the sort. Your claim is false.

4. You allege that Aadhaar is “99.9999% plus” accurate. What does that mean? As it stands, nothing.

5. Let’s be helpful. Let’s try to give your statement some meaning.

6. Aadhaar promises unique identification. Are you saying that it has largely achieved that but, in this imperfect world, there might be a tiny number of duplicates on the population register? That would be meaningful. But impossible to prove. India would drown in a sea of false positives in the attempt.

7. The sea-of-false-positives argument comes from Professor Daugman, the inventor of biometrics based on irisprints. He is, naturally, a supporter of biometrics technology. But even he says forget trying to prove uniqueness, it’s impossible.

8. Alan Gelb and Julia Clark of the Center for Global Development are supporters of biometrics and, specifically, supporters of Aadhaar, please see ‘Performance Lessons from India’s Universal Identification Program’, http://international.cgdev.org/sites/def...

9. Even they say that UIDAI had to “relax” the false negative identification rate in order to keep the number of false positives down, below drowning level (footnote 7, p.5). UIDAI should change its name to MIDAI, the Multiple Identity Authority of India.

10. So that can’t be what you mean when you say that Aadhaar is “99.9999% plus” accurate. You can’t mean that almost every record on the population register is unique. It’s not just that the figures haven’t been independently audited. They can’t be audited. It would take too long.

11. Aadhaar also promises that it verify people’s identity reliably when needed, e.g. when claiming food benefits, or fuel or employment. Perhaps, Korath, you are saying that Aadhaar will be very accurate when it comes to verification. That would be meaningful. But how do you know?

12. The only way to keep false positives down is to let false negatives rise. That trade-off is accepted throughout the biometrics world. If UIDAI have been “relaxing” false negatives to keep false positives down to near zero, then you can expect false negatives to go through the roof. Benefit claimants will be told falsely by the biometrics verification system that they are not who they say they are. That’s a false negative. That’s no food, no fuel and no job.

13. What does “through the roof” mean? The UK Passport Service Biometrics Enrolment Trial suggested that the rate of false negative verification is about 20% if you’re using flat print fingerprints. The US Department of Homeland Security relies on flat print fingerprints in its US-VISIT border protection system and about 20% of primary inspections have to be backed up with secondary inspections. It’s not much to go on. The biometrics industry doesn’t like publishing performance figures. But it looks as if about one-in-five verification attempts will fail if you rely on flat print fingerprints. That’s 20% of the benefits population ready to riot thanks to Aadhaar.

14. Aadhaar promises to use irisprints as well as fingerprints. We used to use irisprints at UK airports for border control. We’ve dropped them. Too expensive? Too slow? Too unreliable? We were never told but, one way and another, we don’t use irisprints any more. Will the same happen in India? It could.

15. Korath, please read ‘Fundamental issues in biometric performance testing: A modern statistical and philosophical framework for uncertainty assessment’, http://biometrics.nist.gov/cs_links/ibpc...

16. There you will find that biometrics is “out of statistical control”. Which means that it is not a science. Which means that its use is theatrical. Security based on mass consumer biometrics is security theatre. Food aid based on mass consumer biometrics is food aid theatre. Etc ...

17. The Head of the UK Border Force gave evidence to Parliament on 15 November 2011, http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player... starting at 12:18.

18. He said that flat print fingerprints were the ninth and lowest priority for his staff when verifying a traveller’s identity and when there are long queues which threaten safety and public order at airports and seaports it is sensible to stop using fingerprint procedures.

19. He lost his job. For not sticking to the security theatre script.

20. Aadhaar may be entertaining theatre. But to claim that it is “99.9999% plus” accurate is meaningless.

MDT

In Reply to Korath 5 years ago

Korath,
Thanks for your comment.
Why is a biometric database required for cash transfer of subsidies? Hasn’t the US been crediting unemployment dole into SSN accounts, which have no biometrics, for over 70 years? UID is for all residents. Subsidies are for citizens. How would a government agency disbursing subsidies or a bank know whether a person with a UID number is a citizen or not?

Now, WHY all this sudden rush for Aadhaar linked subsidies?
This is because, direct cash transfers provide political mileage to rulers! According to a study by the World Bank (http://www.moneylife.in/article/direct-c... ) , voters respond to targeted cash transfers and these transfers can foster support for incumbents, thus making the case for designing political and legislative mechanisms that avoid successful anti-poverty schemes from being captured by political patronage.

“In theory, anti-poverty programs such as conditional cash transfers (CCTs) may play a role in influencing individual political participation—in the form of voting—and preferences, strengthening democratic representation but also producing electoral rewards. For instance, by partly changing the economic circumstances of households, transfer receipts could persuade participant households to exercise their right to vote,” the study ‘Conditional Cash Transfers, Political Participation, and Voting Behaviour’, it says.

http://www.moneylife.in/article/is-aadha...

Regards,
MDT

Korath

In Reply to MDT 5 years ago

The subsidies cannot be leaked as it is targeted and reach the intended beneficiary. One identity one benefit. No impersonation possible.

Korath

5 years ago

Fingerprinting has been in use by many agencies in the past, for example , the motor vehicle department, passport , Visa, RSBY etc. But no issue was raised by the honorable author. When UIDAI uses biometrics to empower our billion plus citizens and save them from impersonation, then she has problem. But Author is a honorable woman.

REPLY

MDT

In Reply to Korath 5 years ago

Korath,
Thanks for your comment.

The government claims that apart from providing an identity, the Aadhaar numbers would enable better delivery of services and effective governance. Would this imply that someone from Tembhali village in north Maharashtra's Nandurbar district will automatically receive food under the public distribution system (PDS), when the middlemen have looted the food before it can even reach the shop?

What's more serious is that the government does not say anywhere that the Aadhaar numbers will be issued to the citizens of India. Instead, it mentions that the Aadhaar numbers will be issued to "individuals residing in India and to certain other classes of individuals". This means that immigrants from neighbouring countries, residing illegally in India, would be able to procure such numbers too, akin to the ration card (PDS Card), and become citizens of the country.
http://www.moneylife.in/article/nothing-...

But may be those interested souls who try to lambast anyone raising valid questions about UIDAI, Nilekani and Aadhaar are honorable human beings!

Regards,
MDT

Anil Nair

5 years ago

The damage has been done, the only way to stop any thing more is by just erasing the data, before it falls into wrong hands.

REPLY

Sandeep

In Reply to Anil Nair 5 years ago

I am assuming you'll never use any smartphone that has finger print scanner as a feature as someone may misuse your bio-metrics and you'll never use any credit card because credit card processing company may be outside India and you'll never wath any smart TV as you can be tracked what you watched at what time and you'll never buy a smart car that is GPS and WiFI enabled because your movement can be tracked, wake up bro!

MDT

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

Sandeep,
Thanks for your comment. However, we are finding it difficult to digest that somebody like you going on bashing each and every article published at Moneylife. That too by claiming and providing links of UIDAI, which always has shied from disclosing information even under the RTI.
Any vested interest, Sandeep, that may have been hurt due to the truth coming out in the open?
Coming back to your question (although these are the exact set of question all newbies from UIDAI try to put time and again), finger print as used in smart phone (iPhone to be specific) is just smallar part of biometrics that is being collected illegally by UIDAI agents. For others like Credit card, Smart TV, smart Car, GPS, I have the choice to chose or reject. In case of UIDAI, there is no choice. It is mandatory to give finger prints of all 10 fingers and iris scan of both eyes. So therefor, if my smart phone or credit card is compromised, I can "cancel" it and get a new one. Is this the same for Aadhaar? Can you cancel and get a new Aadhaar? Is there any provision for cancelling it on the UIDAI site that you always show as the 'gospel truth'?
Regards,
MDT

Sandeep

In Reply to MDT 5 years ago

MDT

now you have come to the point, vested interest??!! how about Moneylife??
No one with vested interest will ever love any unique identity management system, let alone aadhaar or NPR...no thief likes the bulb at street light, same goes with people having vested interests, they don't want any system where they can be tracked by a reference no. like UID/NPR no.
vested interest all I have is I want to see how soon ghost, duplicate and middlemen beneficiaries gets eliminated from system and there is fear of being caught/tracked down if you commit anything wrong/against the law. Just an example if a rapist has a fear that his semen sample (DNA mapping…future of biometrics) can be identified/matched against a database that will show up his profile with home address, will he dare to open his zip?? Embrace technology, don’t embarrass it.
I am not newbie to technology/UID and no way linked to UID as well. It's just that I have been in the field for almost 10 years and do understand the concept behind relational database
just like if you want to use Credit card, Smart TV, smart Car, GPS, you also have a choice to not get UIDAI/NPR. time you used GPS, the time you watched that smart TV, the time you used that credit card that history is there forever to stay, you don't have right to delete that. just stay home be happy!! time you dump technology, it dumps you!!
Aadhaar/NPR cannot be replicated that's why vested interests are crying since 2009??
comment about bashing each article on ML, I just commented 1-2 artcile; at max 3 I guess and you have starting singing that I have been commenting every article, just imagine what ML has been doing since Aadhaar/NPR has started, hiring a team to manipulate every content against aadhaar??? if you don't like my comment I don't mind saving my time and ignoring ML for good...

MDT

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

Sandeep,
Thanks for your comment.
Yes, Moneylife do have a vested interest of protecting innocent, gullible common man or saver from falling prey to 'vested interests' be it a tech czar or anyone. Since, I mentioned you are a newbie, let me tell you about Moneylife group.
Moneylife group empower individual to invest and spend wisely by offering hard facts, insightful opinions, unbiased options and useful tips. Moneylife, launched in March 2006 is driven primarily by the interests of customers and investors. This is evident in our long track record of reporting unbiased facts and opinion, innovative analysis and non-profit initiatives. Moneylife is among the most ethical media companies and is known for calling a spade a spade. So this is Moneylife's vested interest.
Coming back to you other points, all the time you have been quoting only UIDAI site, whereas there are thousands of research papers, articles written by experts in the field of ID system, biometrics etc., available on the Internet.
1. About a century ago, Mahatma Gandhi started the world famous 'Satyagraha' in order to oppose the identification scheme of the government in South Africa. Now if tracking through ID is such a nice concept, according to you, why then even Gandhiji opposed it? That too a century ago? On 22 August 1906, the South African government published a draft Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance. The Ordinance required all Indians in the Transvaal region of South Africa, eight years and above, to report to the Registrar of Asiatics and obtain, upon the submission of a complete set of fingerprints, a certificate which would then have to be produced upon demand.
Since the late nineteenth century, fingerprint identification methods have been used by police agencies around the world to identify suspected criminals as well as the victims of crime. Knowing the impact of the Ordinance and effective criminalisation of the entire community, Gandhi then decided to challenge it. Calling the Ordinance a 'Black Act' he mobilised around 3,000 Indians in Johannesburg who took an oath not to submit to a degrading and discriminatory piece of legislation. This was the first time the world witnessed 'Satyagraha' or a non-resistance movement that later become a phenomenon in India's freedom struggle.
2. When the beneficiary will get actual cash in hand?
The UPA government is pushing forward the direct cash transfer to the beneficiary’s bank account. This means, people will need to reach banks or ATMs for withdrawing cash. According to National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) there were over 1.04 lakh ATMs in the country. The only problem is that the majority of these ATMs are installed in cities or areas with dense population. Thus, unless banks go out of their way and install ATMs in rural areas, the financially excluded residents have to be dependent on the banks, especially on the public sector banks. For example, a Kalawati from a remote village may end up spending a day for getting the cash for subsidy from her bank, which may be mere Rs100 or Rs200. But then, the UPA government is just sending the cash to her account through Aadhaar, while withdrawing and using it to buy food at market rate is her responsibility!
Another aspect of this whole approach is the govt may be giving money in bank accounts, but it will never assure food supply. The Kalawati, who used to buy food from PDS shop will now have to shell out more money to buy the same food from open market. Another example is a poor family earns about Rs5000-6000 per month. While it may shell out about 10% of this amount or Rs500 to buy LPG cylinder, when it comes to buying it at market rate (considering the family would get subsidy without fail in bank account), the family will have to shell out Rs1,200!
Now leave your AC cabin and go to villages and check how many families there have a cash of over Rs1000 at any given point of time and you will know the uselessness of such high handed (read UID and DBTL) approach. But then why should you? You are not affected and your salary is credited in your bank account on time so why should you bother if the Kalawati receives food or no? Your aim is only to transfer the subsidy money, whether she gets it or no, is not your concern, right?
3. Technology
What technology you are talking about? Let’s say a financial product like Finnacle. This product has not come out in the market just like that. It involved several rigorous tests, pilots, trials and errors and field tests with particular sample size like number of customers that may use it. Only after going through all the process, it entered the market. If you have doubt on the process, you can check with Mr Nandan Nilekani!
Now coming back to UID, where are the tests, field trials? According to test results of UIDAI’s biometrics-based Aadhaar project, there could be up to 15,000 false positives for every Indian resident. Moreover, this figure is just for identification and not for verification. For over 1.2 billion UID numbers, they have used data from just 20,000 people, in pairs, as the sample.
David Moss, who spent eight years campaigning against the UK's National ID (NID) card scheme, has questioned the logic of the UIDAI and the government to depending on biometrics to produce the UID number. In a report titled, "India's ID card scheme-drowning in a sea of false positives", Mr Moss said, "those (the FPIR) conclusions do not follow from the evidence reported. Nothing in UIDAI's surprisingly low quality report suggests that it would be feasible to prove that each electronic identity on the Central ID Repository (CIDR) is unique. Not with a billion plus people on the database. Far from it, India can be confident, from the figures quoted in UIDAI's proof of concept trial report, that de-duplication could never be achieved."
According to JT D'Souza, who analysed the pilot study conducted by the UIDAI, given the well-known lacunae in our infrastructure and massive demographics, biometrics as an ID will be a guaranteed failure and result in denial of service. He said, "The sum of false acceptance rate and false rejection rate (EER) reveals only part of the problem, which is rejection or acceptance within a short duration of enrolment. The bigger problem is ageing, including health and environment factors, which causes sufficient change to make biometrics completely unusable and requires very frequent re-enrolment." http://www.moneylife.in/article/how-uida...
For the record, no one has ever issued IDs to such a huge population anywhere in the world. And whoever has tried to issue biometrics-based Ids, even for a small size, had to abandon or discard the idea altogether.
4. It is admitted by UIDAI that there are “ownership risks (Ownership of the project by stakeholders), Technology risks (nowhere in the world a project of this size has been implemented) and privacy concerns (there may be groups raising privacy issues – many ID Projects in western countries have been stalled due to the opposition of privacy groups).
It is quite astounding that none of the members of CCUIDAI or the GoM members, be it AK Antony, P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ajit Singh, Kapil Sibal, Praful Patel, V Kishore Chandra Deo or Jairam Ramesh have got themselves enrolled for either UID/Aadhaar or NPR. Notably, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the political patrons of the project have chosen not to enroll and baptize themselves with so-called right to identity to them. Pranab Mukheree, who fathered the project and declares how he set it rolling in his bio-data is also conspicuous by refraining from enrolment like LK Advani, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Prakash Karat, Nitish Kumar or Arvind Kejriwal. None of the known editors of print and electronic media have enrolled themselves for it. No known social worker, be it Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy or Sandeep Pandey have endorsed it. No known judges, lawyers, jurists or academicians of the country have got themselves biometrically profiled under the project. In fact acclaimed scholars like Ashis Nandy have referred to UID number as prison number. Likes of whistleblowers such as AK Jain and Press Council of India member, Arun Kumar have debunked it. This demonstrates that the project does not enjoy the confidence of the senior most politicians, judges, scholars, activists and the legal fraternity of the country. http://www.moneylife.in/article/no-aadha...

In the end, we would advise you to read more from experts like Usha Ramanathan, David Moss, Adv Shyam Divan (http://www.moneylife.in/article/aadhaar-... and the Supreme Court http://www.moneylife.in/article/aadhaar-... and some RTI exposes on UID/Aadhaar http://www.moneylife.in/article/rti-expo...

Regards,
MDT

Sandeep

In Reply to MDT 5 years ago

See the approach at financial express..on how to criticize anything without being partial..

http://www.financialexpress.com/news/col...




1. Mahatma opposed it because it was a discriminatory practiced as it was targeting only Asian community...don't just mold anything to malign UID/NPR i.e. single identity system

2. about banking newtwork...haven't you heard something about MicroATM yet? being used by banking correspondents also post office is coming up with bank license and currently disbursing payments by post office.

about kalawati(name changed) in my village, she doesn't even know that village sarpanch has made her job narega card and filling his pocket at name of her. Also she hasn't seen ration shop open in last year or so forget about getting ration from depot at fair price. once her ration card is linked to UID/NPR she will get the money in his account and depot holder will go to her house to seek her business...just read about new PDS design at UID website, I sent u link already oh...u hate UID website..no problem you can go to narega or PDS portal

http://www.pdsportal.nic.in/Files/Implem...

LPG DBT design was faulty, I also commented and wrote to UIDAI to modify it as per PDS design so that consumer doesn't have to pay full price upfront and keep the check at gas dealer level.

with grace of almighty and my hard work I reached AC office and also 5 start hotels but I do come from/studied at a village where internet is still a miracle. and have seen/experienced first hands things you might have just seen in movies or documentary at youtube only. That's why I support any single identity system that India can come up with doesn't matter UID or NPR that can remove middle men in form of sarpanch at village level or anyone in between government and common man living in a remote hut.

3. no one reached mount Everest until two men dared to do and now people go for fun!! you don't master anything overnight, it take s time with focus on continuous improvement. Glider that was flown first is totally different from boeing Dreamliner but concept stays same. biometrics going through the same, DNA mappin is in waiting..

4. once implemented everyone will come under the umbrella for their own convenience. Name any developed country that doesn't have a single reference point for entire country, USA(SSN), canada(SIN)...etc.

it's enough for this article I guess, let's wait for next article hopefully there will be some better constructive thoughts

MDT

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

Sandeep,
Thanks for posting your comment.

1. Mahatma Gandhi opposed draft Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance because it proposed stiff penalties, including deportation, for Indians who failed to comply with the terms of the Ordinance. Knowing the impact of the Ordinance and effective criminalisation of the entire community, Gandhi then decided to challenge it.

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), had been maintaining its UID or Aadhaar is 'free and voluntary' and is meant for 'residents'. However, in its premature implementation, in practice the scheme is gradually being made non-voluntary and mandatory. This is made worse by adoption of coercive pre-conditions by different government departments.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the right to privacy within the right to life in Article 21, and any restriction must be justified through a rational and reasonable statutory procedure. UIDAI, as it presently stands, is prima facie unconstitutional for contravening the right to privacy without providing any safeguards, procedures and guidelines.

2. Let us take the case of PDS, the elementary question is that there has to be a computer and a biometric, iris scan reader in each shop together with an internet connection that too in rural areas along with electricity to operate it. You also need internet connectivity in all the villages and towns. This is applicable for microATMs as well. As per microATM standards version 1.5.1 of IBA the device should not retain any record/data at its level and should connect with the server through Internet.

What about electricity? Though power sector reforms were mooted way back in 2003 and unbundling of the electricity boards have taken place, yet no major investments are forthcoming and there is an acute shortage of power all around the country. Therefore on what basis are they going to provide the accessibility and operational issues that follow?
In most of the rural areas the power supply is just for 3-4 hours if not less and we are still struggling to meet the demand. So without addressing this in the first place how can they go for advanced technology: So the building is built without the foundation? How can it sustain?

Even in the NREGA programme, the problem is not about issuing an identity for daily workers. It is the attendance at the end of the day marked by the supervisor that provides the workers their wages. Similarly, in PDS shops, it is not the problem of identification of the end-user. Most leakages in the PDS do not take place at the last mile as hypothesised by UIDAI; instead, it is the big corrupt babus and middlemen who are involved in siphoning grains before they reach the ration shop itself.

All the examples mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg - the non-sustainability of UID, but neither the Union government nor the highly qualified techies at UIDAI have time to take cognisance of these issues. Therefore, the old adage is correct in saying that if we forget history we are doomed to repeat it.

3. People who reached Mount Everest first did through homework and practised hard to reach the Summit. What your beloved UIDAI had done? It just tried to enforce something without any homework, any scientific test with proper sample size, all the time maintaining it is "voluntary" and meant for those residents who don’t have any kind of ID proof. Why it is being shoved to middle-class people who already may have 14 other IDs?

4. It has been found that the UID project is “full of uncertainty in technology as the complex scheme is built upon untested, unreliable technology and several assumptions”. This is a serious concern given that the project is about fixing identity through the use of technology, especially biometrics. Neither the Proof of Concept studies nor any assessment studies done by the UIDAI have been able to affirm the possibility of maintaining accuracy as the database expands to accommodate 1.2 billion people. The estimated failure of biometrics is expected to be as high as 15%.

As I said earlier, you need to do a lot of reading and research before raising valid questions. So go and search if the US SSN or Canada SIN has biometrics attached with it or not?

Next time, request you to do “proper” homework before posting comments like a newbie.

Regards,
MDT

Sandeep

5 years ago

Here comes the next installment of UID bashing article by moneylife....sometime I just wonder would you dare to deny finger printing if you are in queue for VISA at embassy where it's for sure that you're data will go to foreign country

REPLY

Anil Nair

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

So, u seem like travelling a lot. Have you ever been stopped and checked intentionally just because you belong to a country where every identity is on sale by culprits. You can own a Aadhaar card for FREE!.. That's what the Govt. said..!

Sandeep

In Reply to Anil Nair 5 years ago

when every ID is for sale that's when something like UID/NPR becomes more important. I am glad you answered your own question. Aadhaar is still FREE if you go by proper channel.

chan

5 years ago

Please dispose off UIDA as early as possible. I think this article should be last nail on the coffin of UIDA. Please don't write anything about Nilekani. After all, he is holy cow!!!

David Moss

5 years ago

"... when asked how they could let foreign companies of such provenance get their hands on the data, we are told that [UIDAI] had no means of knowing that they are foreign companies ..."

No means of knowing?

1. Companies have IDs. It's quite easy to establish whether they are foreign.

2. Mr Nilekani is a man of the world. He must know that Safran was French and that L-1 Identity Solutions was American. Everyone else knows that.

3. I told him on 4 March 2011, when I sent him a pre-publication copy of http://dematerialisedid.com/BCSL/Drown.h...:

"From: David Moss [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: 04 March 2011 15:43
To: Nandan Nilekani
Subject: Request for comment in advance of press release

Nandan Nilekani
Chairman
Unique Identification Authority of India

Dear Mr Nilekani

I append below my review of UIDAI's proof of concept trial report.

I intend to base a press release on it in 10 days time, on Monday 14 March 2011.

Any response from UIDAI before that would be much appreciated,
particularly if it is to point out errors in my sea-of-false-positives argument.

I hope you find the review interesting and useful.

Yours sincerely
David Moss"

David Moss

5 years ago

"... when asked how they could let foreign companies of such provenance get their hands on the data, we are told that [UIDAI] had no means of knowing that they are foreign companies ..."

No means of knowing?

1. Companies have IDs. It's quite easy to establish whether they are foreign.

2. Mr Nilekani is a man of the world. He must know that Safran was French and that L-1 Identity Solutions was American. Everyone else knows that.

3. I told him on 4 March 2011, when I sent him a pre-publication copy of http://dematerialisedid.com/BCSL/Drown.h...:

"From: David Moss [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: 04 March 2011 15:43
To: Nandan Nilekani
Subject: Request for comment in advance of press release

Nandan Nilekani
Chairman
Unique Identification Authority of India

Dear Mr Nilekani

I append below my review of UIDAI's proof of concept trial report.

I intend to base a press release on it in 10 days time, on Monday 14 March 2011.

Any response from UIDAI before that would be much appreciated,
particularly if it is to point out errors in my sea-of-false-positives argument.

I hope you find the review interesting and useful.

Yours sincerely
David Moss"

Aadhaar turns Nir-aadhaar

Finally, real truth about lack of data privacy is exposed

On 24th March, in one fell swoop, the Supreme Court of India (SC) defanged the Congress-led government’s most expensive and most controversial Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) programme. The government was asked to withdraw all orders making the Aadhaar number mandatory and told that UIDAI cannot share Aadhaar details with any agency without a person’s concurrence.

Strangely, the deathblow came from UIDAI’s own petition. UIDAI had appealed against a lower court’s order asking it to share biometric data with the police for a criminal investigation. UIDAI did not want to share data or allow its competence or capability to be tested, as ordered by the high court. It was then that it admitted that its technology was not foolproof as touted and the 0.057% error rate could lead to lakhs of false identification possibilities in criminal cases, if applied to 57 crore Indians whose biometrics (fingerprints and iris scan) are captured by UIDAI.

The UIDAI has always maintained that Aadhaar was not mandatory and that the data could not be shared without a person’s consent. However, in the absence of a clear statute and non-transparent functioning, privacy activists had filed petitions raising several key concerns about UIDAI’s backdoor strategy of making Aadhaar mandatory for payment of salaries to government employees, LPG subsidies, birth and death registrations, admissions to schools and colleges, etc. Nandan Nilekani, a founder of Infosys and the high-profile technocrat behind this programme, personally lobbied with Reserve Bank of India (RBI), individual banks and the capital market regulator to try and make it mandatory even for those with multiple identities.

Ironically, the massive spending on Aadhaar was sanctioned on the grounds that it would provide identity to millions of poor and disenfranchised Indians and allow them to get the benefits of government schemes and subsidies. In making these claims, Aadhaar hid many crucial facts.

These were: biometrics are not fool proof; finger prints change, have to be revalidated every few years and can be cloned easily; and the sub-contracted data collection process was flawed. People have multiple Aadhaar numbers and Aadhaar numbers have been issued to chairs and tables and, as a sting operation confirmed, Aadhaar was easily issued to foreigners for a price and a letter from a politician.

On 26th March, CJ Karira, an activist, won an appeal against the UIDAI’s reluctance to respond to Right to Information (RTI) queries and obtained answers to some crucial questions. First, that oil companies are not using Aadhaar to ‘authenticate’ the identity, but only to ‘match’ the number for themselves. There is no way to delete biometric data if a person wants to ‘opt’ out of Aadhaar—there is no exit. The most stunning revelation was that UIDAI does not maintain any record of who the Aadhaar data is shared with or when.

All this only exposes the dubious role played by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on a project that admits to have spent Rs4,000 crore already to enrol 57 crore Indians and has been sanctioned a huge budget for further spending without a parliamentary nod.
 

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COMMENTS

Narayanaswami Natarajan

5 years ago

My rejoinder to Mr. Sandeep.
Nilakeni's intentions were probably noble. Poor fellow got into a wrong company with vested interests and lent his name to the games it played. It is non- achievement because the method adopted was opaque and illegal and the product is suspect. The huge expenditure had no parliamentary sanction. Coercion was used to force it down the throats of innocent participants. It had no parliamentary nod. A smart guy like NN must certainly have understood this issue early in the game. If he still cooperated and colluded one is forced to infer that ambition came before national interest. His candidate as a member of congress party proves the point. He had at least one more honorable option to become an MP. Money Life is only a messenger. No point in shooting it. Let Nilakeni clarify on all the points.

REPLY

Sandeep

In Reply to Narayanaswami Natarajan 5 years ago

Hi Narayanan

spending 3800 crore on Aadhaar/NPR no. is nothing as compared to benefit it'll give to coming generations.

Aadhaar has helped to cut down leakage of 1 billion USD just in LPG subsidies only in last year, so Aadhaar has already paid off it's cost. Now it's just a cash cow only for Indian exchequer, any sensible next finance minister would love(provided it's majority goverment) to make it mandatory as soon as entire India is covered by end of 2015 to cut down subsidy bill/fiscal deficit/stop leakage/eliminate ghost beneficiary.

India spends around 300000 crore every year in subsidies along and we all know 10-40% is diversion, leakage, never reaches the end beneficiary. Aadhaar/NPR no. has the potential to save that 40 % or direct to right beneficiary so government will be saving. Even if it saves 10%, still it's 5 billion USD every year!!!

I am no one to comment about why NN choose this party or that to be MP, but I also, like you; thought about it why he would do that, then just had a thought may be he would be then only one(if elected) in parliament who can explain in Loksabha what's aadhaar/NPR no. as a concept and defend this as an idea to help coming generations otherwise you also know what kind of MPs we send to loksabha.

Aaadhaar was started in 2009 with an Executive order(legal by costitution)and UIDAI bill 2010 was sent to standing committee headed by Yashwant Sinha, didn't let it go to next step and same guy recently telling at TV that NPR is good but Aadhaar is bad, just because NPR was concept of BJP in Vajpayee goverment and Aadhaar is Congress game changer. if you call Aadhaar illegal then take it as NPR no. which is legal as per Indian constitution




MDT

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

Sandeep,
Thanks for your comments.
Philanthropy without productivity, welfare without wealth and charity without capital will guarantee the bankruptcy of any nation.
http://www.moneylife.in/article/food-sec...

Talking about the ordinance, this is a clear constitutional impropriety. The power to promulgate ordinances is vested with the President and Governors under Articles 123 and 213 of the Constitution and is based on similar powers that the Governor-General of India and the Governors of provinces had before independence. In a heated debate on 23 May 1949, several members of the Constituent Assembly expressed fears of a misuse of this power. Dr BR Abukir informed the members that this extraordinary power was necessary because the “framework for passing law in the ordinary process does not exist”. In the end, the members accepted that this extraordinary power was a necessary evil to be used in extraordinary situations and not perverted to serve political ends. As has happened several times in the past, our politicians have done exactly what the founding fathers did not expect them to do.

In the case of ordinance, it requires to be passed as an Act by the Parliament within six months of its promulgation to be deemed legal.

Coming back to your 'achievement' of LPG subsidy transfere.... Several people who have linked their Aadhaar with LPG distribution are either not receiving subsidy on time or not receiving the SMS. On the other hand, some people are receiving multiple SMS with different customer IDs about LPG refill and subsidy not related with them.
http://www.moneylife.in/article/aadhaar-...

Ram Das

5 years ago

Anti-Aadhaar ranting is at least entertaining. Even when UIDAI is vindicated by the supreme court, new spin of moneylife shows how UIDAI was defanged.
Facts
1. All UIDAI documents including proposed parliament bill insisted on treating resident's biometric as private and could not be shared without resident's consent.
2. UIDAI appealed to court to insist on this resident's privacy.
3. No documents of UIDAI has ever said that Aadhaar is compulsory. It always has said that Aadhaar is optional.

State agencies and other central government agencies administrating benefit programs insisted on Aadhaar. This is wrong and I am glad the supreme court upheld it.

REPLY

MDT

In Reply to Ram Das 5 years ago

Dear Ram Das,
Thanks for your comment.
n a strange case of conflict of interests, Nandan Nilekani, the IT czar, is either heading or part of a committee or group that is turning the 'voluntary' UID number or Aadhaar of residents as mandatory for citizens to access several services and benefits from the government!
http://www.moneylife.in/article/nandan-n...

MG Warrier

5 years ago

This is in response to Sandeep’s comment that “…seems like moneylife team has no topic left to cover other than criticizing Aadhaar all the time…”. The further observations Sandeep has made on April 5 justifies the criticism AADHAAR is encountering in the media. After all, media gives voice to the common man’s concerns.

REPLY

Sandeep

In Reply to MG Warrier 5 years ago

Sir, no where I mentioned that Aadhaar criticism is justified, rather you should appreciate that UPA has only done this one good thing in last 10 year of ghotala tenure!!

MG Warrier

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

I said "The further observations Sandeep has made on April 5 justifies the criticism AADHAAR is encountering in the media. After all, media gives voice to the common man’s concerns." There are enough ifs and buts and uncertainties about AADHAAR in your observations recorded here. They justify the criticism AADHAAR is attracting!

Narayanaswami Natarajan

5 years ago

It is now Nandan nilakeni without his Aadhaar!On the back of this non-achievement he has also joined the corrupt congress bandwagon to seek an MP's job from Bangalore. I hope the enlightened electorate of his constituency will see through the game of this wannabe PM!
N. Natarajan

REPLY

Sandeep

In Reply to Narayanaswami Natarajan 5 years ago

he spearheaded this project and gave ID to 60 crore residents of India and UID will be completing another 33 crore by early next year and in your terms still it is non- achievement???

Sandeep

5 years ago

seems like moneylife team has no topic left to cover other than criticizing Aadhaar all the time. they might forget food but even in dreams they think about how we can manipulate any news to defame aadhaar but fact of the matter is Aadhaar aka NPR no. is there to stay forever and only ID that is covering more than 85 crore(61 UID +24 by NPR) people residing in India.

There is no other single ID that can match it and has no duplicates with online authentication.

So Moneylife team rather than criticizing UID as a concept, start thinking how you can make it better.. that's called constructive journalism...contributing to society

REPLY

MDT

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

Sandeep,
Thanks for your comment.
You need to read more in Moneylife to get to know the truth.
Here is the list of article that are most read at present by readers and Aadhaar related article is the last one on it!


1. The Real Story of how HSBC Was Made To Pay
2. Football and cricket most susceptible to money laundering
3. IDFC, Bandhan Financial get RBI nod for banking licence
4. Safe & Higher Returns: Look beyond Bank FDs
5. Aadhaar turns Nir-aadhaar

Talking about constructive journalism... Moneylife has been sending several question to Mr Nilekani and other top executives of UIDAI. But they dont believe in constructive, free flow of information. But may be you can aks them to be more open and share their opaqueness while providing answers. This experience, unfortunately is not limitd with only Moneylife. Several activist, who used the RTI route, were also denied information from the "open, constructive" UIDAI on its Aadhaar. Read http://www.moneylife.in/article/aadhaar-... and http://www.moneylife.in/article/uidais-c...

Sandeep

In Reply to MDT 5 years ago

I remember one saying of my ex boss, very experience fellow, don't just complain about anything wrong or not being done in a right manner unless you have found/can suggest a better way otherwise you're just magnifying the issue at hand.

same goes here at moneylife about Aadhaar, in last 2-3 year since I have started following UID/NPR as a concept, have never seen a positive thing about Aadhaar by ML or a better alternative solution to address the ghost/duplicate/cut down middlemen beneficiary in the government system.

just criticizing without giving feedback specifying areas of improvement doesn't make much of a sense.

by the way I did send a feedback about modifying the LPG subsidy the same way as PDS solution by UIDAI(to be rolled out) where consumer will have option to go to any Fair price shop to get ration and Depot holder will have to compete by providing better service and on time.

for some of activists, UID has all the process docs at website

http://uidai.gov.in/library/references.h...

these process docs are worth reviewing and come out with better solution for aam aadmi

MG Warrier

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

This response from me is not on behalf of MDT. Since the initial days of UID or 'Nilekani' experiment I too have been following the identity story. I had felt that the project was on the wrong track. Several comments were recorded and many letters to the editor were published calling for a review. As regards AAdhaar-linked benefit transfer, an article was also posted at moneylife.in If you are not able to find the right path, that does not mean that knowingly you should proceed on th wrong path which may be taking you in the opposite direction 'at your cost'

Udit C

5 years ago

What do the big guns care? They have made name, fame and given BIG contracts!

MM & Co can scuttle their mothers and fathers if they find their purpose spent.

MG Warrier

5 years ago

Copied below is my response to a newspaper report on AADHAAR:

December 23, 2011

Review Aadhaar

“Aadhaar or Niraadhaar? That’s the question!”(Business Line, December 23) sums up the present predicament of UID project and the not so envious situation in which Mr. Nanden Nilekani is placed. Nilekani doesn’t lose much, because he gains experience in the learning process which will take him to greater heights. Government has no prestige issue on such matters, because this sort of meddling, cost and time overruns and huge losses are part of any game government plays, at least in the recent past in India. 70 per cent of the 120 crore people for whose benefit the project was allegedly conceived, are also not bothered about the present and future of this wonderful exercise as they are literally unaware of the goings on, because they are out of reach for the media. Then, why B S Raghavan is getting over-worked about the success or failure of this Aadhaar? He represents the voice of the taxpayer whose hard-earned money is being wasted and at whose doors finally the buck will stop.
UID, for various reasons including inadequate funding, non-availability of in-house expertise and resultant dependence on external agencies including banks and government departments is bound to take much more time than originally envisaged, even to cover the already ‘identified’ citizens. If government is convinced about the utility of UID, the project should be allowed to merge with the Census of India and access the infrastructure and methodology in use by that organization for decades and fast-track the process.
M G Warrier, Thiruvananthapuram

REPLY

Sandeep

In Reply to MG Warrier 5 years ago

answer to your merging of UID and Census of India i.e. NPR card. .....at back end UID and NPR both share same no.generation mechanism.

To avoid duplication and double work, UID was allowed to enroll 60 Crore and NPR was allowed to enroll 65 crore. UID has completed the target of 60 crore and NPR has enrolled only 24 crore so far so UID was allowed to another 33 crore in UP, Bihar, chattisgarh and uttrakhand by early next year. so by end of 2015 almost everyone residing in India (doesn't matter nationality)will have Aadhaar no. generated and NPR will keep issuing Smart ID if you're a citizen of India.

Bottom line if you're resident in India, you have Aadhaar only and if you are citizen of india then you'll have smart ID with aadhaar no. on it.


MG Warrier

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

Sandeep
Please clarify whether UID(Adhaar) and NPR are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. In which case, those who have AADHAAR will not have NPR number and vice versa.

Sandeep

In Reply to MG Warrier 5 years ago

NPR and Aadhaar are mutually exclusive only in a sense that NPR has information about your declared nationality(of course you have to have supporting document to justify your claim)along with some more parameter for statistical purpose. Thats why all border area where there is possible influx of people from bordering countries like bangladesh(west bengal), Srilanka(tamil nadu), pak (J&K) being covered under NPR to keep check on outsiders.

just a correction what I said above, people having aadhaar card may get the Smart ID as well but that will have Nationality information stored on a chip. But still aadhaar is not a proof of your declared nationality but NPR is.



follow FAQ about NPR
http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011-Commo...

aadhaar is just a no. being given on a simple card. you can print it online anytime but it'll speedify the complete enrollment process because NPR may take another 5-10 year to provide smart card at the speed it's going.

Only purpose Aadhaar is serving is to certify the uniqueness of individual by matching your biometrics, iris and photo alongwith your demographics. It's eliminating ghost, duplicates and middleperson from the government system and that's people who has been abusing the system has been trying hard to anyhow derail this aadhaar card enrollment.

For common man in India doesn't matter whether they get the 12 digit UID no. from Aadhaar or NPR...

Abhijit Gosavi

5 years ago

These machine vision algorithms use a finite (a small) number of points (which form the so-called "profile" within the computer's database) to represent data from millions of points (actually infinitely many points) on our fingers. Naturally, they are very imperfect. Further, as pointed out, fingerprints change with time. Mr. Nilekani, an electrical engineer and a programmer, must know these serious flaws exist in these algorithms. But like everything else, this scam also can be traced to money; in this case, about Rs. 4,000 crores!

REPLY

Ram Das

In Reply to Abhijit Gosavi 5 years ago

Mr. Gosavi is kindly requested to read accuracy report of UIDAI (http://uidai.gov.in/images/FrontPageUpda.... Besides use of all ten fingers, use of iris (multi-modal) biometrics provides required accuracy. You can understand math behind multi-modal by reading numerous papers published by NIST, Prof. Anil Jain or other well renowned biometrics scientists.

Please do understand full science and engineering behind biometrics before accepting hearsay claims.

Other countries such as Indonesia have already shown the accuracy they can get using nearly identical scheme.

KARTAR SAINANI

5 years ago

Rs770 crores was not enough for NN that he had to start such a dubious & traitorous scheme whch gave away the details of our citizens to CIA connected companies.His Rs770 crores should be confiscated to make up the loss of Rs4000 crores loss to the exchequer.

Bhaskar Raut

5 years ago

'Aadhar' has no value, and the crores of rupees spent on providing 'aadhar'is a waste. It only helped the private agencies to siphon money from the government excenquer.

REPLY

ganapathy mani

In Reply to Bhaskar Raut 5 years ago

The P.M has to answer this.

Aadhaar: The lies of Nilekani and Congress over biometric profiling –Part 30

Has Nilekani or Congress party ever informed that its biometric Aadhaar is going to be used for surveillance and security? Also is this the reason why very few MPs, MLAs and ministers from Congress have subjected themselves to biometric profiling of Aadhaar or NPR?

On 24 March 2014, the Supreme Court’s bench of Dr Justice BS Chauhan and Justice J Chelameswar heard Mohan Parasaran, Solicitor General of India et al as petitioners and upon hearing the counsel the Court made the following order, “Issue notice. In addition to normal mode of service, dasti service, is permitted. Operation of the impugned order shall remain stayed. In the meanwhile, the present petitioner (Unique Identification Authority of India -UIDAI) is restrained from transferring any biometric information of any person who has been allotted the Aadhaar number to any other agency without his consent in writing. More so, no person shall be deprived of any service for want of Aadhaar number in case she is otherwise eligible or entitled. All the authorities are directed to modify their forms, circulars, likes so as to not compulsorily require the Aadhaar number in order to meet the requirement of the interim order passed by this Court forthwith. Tag and list the matter with main matter i.e. WP(C) No.494/2012.”

 

The Court was hearing the special leave to Appeal (Criminal) No. 2524/2014 i.e. UIDAI Versus Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI) that was earlier mentioned before the Chief Justice of India. This case has now been linked with the previous case Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012 against the biometric identification based unique identity (UID)/ Aadhaar number.

 

An RTI application was filed in UIDAI with a request that ‘kindly ensure all pages are intact including annexures marked ‘Non-Disclosure Agreement”, “Technical Bid” and “Commercial Bid”.  In a reply dated 5 March 2014, the UIDAI replied, “The Annexures J, & K w.r.t. to Accenture Service Pvt Ltd mentioned Technical Bid and Commercial Bid. The annexures I, J & K w.r.t to L-1 Identity Solutions Operating Private Limited mentioned-non-disclosure Agreement, Technical Bid and Commercial Bids’.”
 

It further states, “As per Confidentiality Disclosure statement, the document contains confidential information of above firms and they have requested not to disclose the information outside UIDAI or be used for purposes other than the evaluation of their business capabilities. Secondly, this being third party information, the firms were requested for their comments wherein they had denied for sharing of their documents with any applicant.” The RTI application was filed by Qaneez-e-Fatemah Sukhrani. 
 

It may be recalled that Central Information Commission (CIC) had heard the matter of UIDAI's refusal to share copy of all contracts given to French and US biometric technology companies, namely, L1 Identity Solutions and Accenture. Mrs Sushma Singh, the Information Commissioner, gave a letter (No.F12013/096/2012-RTI -UIDAI) of UIDAI to the author who represented the appellant, Mathew Thomas from Bangalore.
 

 UIDAI’s letter written to CIC submits that "contractual obligation in respect of BSP (Biometric Solution Provider) contracts has expired. Therefore, UIDAI has no objection in sharing the following contract details:- a) Copy of contract of UIDAI with M/s L1 Identity Solutions for Biometric Technology; and b) Copy of contract of UIDAI with M/s Accenture for Biometric Technology".
 

Following this, UIDAI gave the copies of the contract. After examining these documents with regard to the Accenture for Biometric Technology, it has come to notice that the first 237 pages appear to be in order but after that there is a one pager titled Annexure J Technical Bid Technical Bid as submitted by Accenture Services. The Technical Bid document is missing. After that there is a one pager titled Annexure K Commercial Bid Commercial Bid as submitted by Accenture Services Pvt Ltd. The Commercial Bid document is missing.
 

With regard to the L1 Identity Solutions for Biometric Technology, I notice that the first 236 pages appear to be in order but after that there is a one pager titled Annexure I Non-Disclosure Agreement as submitted by M/s L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company Private Limited. But this document is missing. After that there is a one pager titled Annexure J Technical Bid as submitted by M/s L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company Private Limited. The Technical Bid document is missing. After that there is a one pager titled Annexure K Commercial Bid as submitted by M/s L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company Private Limited. The Commercial Bid document is missing.
 

In a letter dated 10 September 2013 to UIDAI, the author wrote that reasoning that because "contractual obligation in respect of BSP (Biometric Solution Provider) contracts has expired. Therefore, UIDAI has no objection in sharing the following contract details :- a) Copy of contract of UIDAI with M/s L1 Identity Solutions for Biometric Technology; and b) Copy of contract of UIDAI with M/s Accenture for Biometric Technology"  is flawed in the light of the previous attached judgment of CIC. 
 

Under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Public Information Officer (PIO) cannot deny information citing commercial confidence for agreements between a public authority and private party. While giving this judgment, CIC said “The claim of 'commercial confidence' in denying access to agreements between private parties and the masters of the public authorities—citizens—runs counter to the principles of the Right to Information.” 
 

“Any agreement entered into by the government is an agreement deemed to have been entered into on behalf of the and in the interest of ‘We the people’. Hence if any citizen wants to know the contents of such an agreement he is in the position of a principal asking his agent to disclose to him the terms of the agreement entered into by the agent on behalf of the principal. No agent can refuse to disclose any such information to his principal,” the CIC said in its order dated 27 July 2009.
 

The Commission was of the view that “The objectives of the RTI Act would be defeated if public authorities claim exemption based on a claim that ‘terms and condition were much more favourable to the government’, and therefore these must be kept away from the Public. In fact public feels that quite often the contrary is the case,” the CIC noted. The CIC observed, “Any so called imaginary moral or reciprocal obligation cannot be permitted to subvert a solemn constitutional and legal obligation”, and directed the PIO to provide copy of the agreement.
 

In the light of the CIC’s order, UIDAI’s refusal to share ‘Non-Disclosure Agreement”, “Technical Bid” and “Commercial Bid” in its reply dated March 5, 2014 is untenable.
 

In the contract agreement between the President of India, as purchaser and L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company, as a "Biometric Solution Provider" it has been officially admitted that the latter is a corporation of US based in Delaware as of 24 August 2010.  Notably, L-1 has since been bought over by French corporate conglomerate, Safran Group after the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was convinced that there are no unresolved national security concerns with respect to the transaction. L-1 Identity Solutions announced agreement to be acquired by Frenh corporate entity Safran on 20 September 2010.
 

From the contract agreement between the President of India, as purchaser and Accenture Services Pvt Ltd as a "Biometric Solution Provider" dated 1 September 2010 it is evident that it has not been disclosed that Accenture Services Pvt Ltd is a subsidiary of Dublin, Ireland based Accenture plc, a US company. Till 1 January  2001 it was known as Andersen Consulting.
 

As a consequence of French corporate conglomerate Safran’s purchase of US company L-1 Identity Solutions, the de-duplication contracts of UIDAI’s Centralized Identities Data Repository (CIDR) and Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR),  which was given to foreign companies on 30 July 2010 to three companies now lies with two companies of French and US origin namely, Safran Group and Accenture.  
 

L-1 has been a US company that admittedly worked with intelligence agencies of the US. Now it has been purchased by French company, Safran Group in which French government has a stake and it also has forty year partnership with China. The latter is a US company that works admittedly with security agencies of the US.
 

UIDAI was asked whether there has been any fresh agreement between UIDAI and Safran Group and its subsidiaries. It also wants to know as to who are all the biometric solution providers after the expiry of the “contractual obligations” with L-1 Identity Solution and Accenture.   
 

The UIDAI had stated in its reply dated 23 December 2013 that the Appellant's data had not been shared with any entity outside the UIDAI.  Here appellant refers to CJ Karira, who had filed an RTI application seeking information about the same. In a reply of 13/16, January, 2014, UIDAI stated that “the data would be shared only on a formal request by the State concerned through the Nodal Departments for the delivery of welfare and public services and schemes of the Government.”  This is factually incorrect.

 

Nandan Nilekani, former unelected head of Aadhaar related projects and committees attempted to mislead Indian voters in general and particularly from Bangalore South constituency in a write-up dated 24 March 2014.  Nilekani, a Congress candidate, wrongly claimed, “The Supreme Court has upheld the UIDAI’s view. We have always stated that the data collected from residents would remain private, and not be shared with other agencies.”

 

The documents accessed through RTI reply dated 25 October 2013 reveal that this is an impudent misrepresentation of facts. In the contract agreement between the President of India for UIDAI, as purchaser and L-1 Identity Solutions Operating Company, and Accenture Services Pvt Ltd accessed through RTI it is stated, "The Data shall be retained by Accenture Services Pvt Ltd not more than a period of seven years as per Retention Policy of Government of India or any other policy that UIDAI may adopt in future."

 

This clearly implies that all the biometric data of Indians which has been collected so far is now available to US Government and French Government because of Patriot Act and French government’s stake in the company in question.

 

This Congress candidate states, “In its very first strategy document and in subsequent conversations, the UIDAI had clarified that while other government agencies have the option to make the number mandatory, the UIDAI itself will not make the Aadhaar number mandatory. Over the past year, some government agencies made the Aadhaar number mandatory for specific services and benefits.”

 

The fact is all these government agencies made biometric Aadhaar number mandatory based on the recommendations of Committees headed by Nilekani himself. UIDAI itself was/is maintaining that Aadhaar is 'voluntary' while its chairman, the Congressman made sure that it was made mandatory to avail a number of services or benefits from the government.

 

The Strategy Overview document of the UIDAI says that "enrolment will not be mandated" adding, "This will not, however, preclude governments or registrars from mandating enrolment" but the stark fact is Nilekani himself headed several committees whose recommendations made Aadhaar mandatory."

 

In his statement dated 24 March 2014, Nilekani, the Congressman, claimed, “The argument was that making Aadhaar mandatory enables agencies to weed out fakes and duplicates in their systems, thus reducing corruption.” This was the argument of the government in which he was a cabinet minister ranked official and he was himself recommending it. Nilekani is indulging in verbal gymnastics and is trying to hide behind a veil of language.  

 

Nilekani claims, “The power of Aadhaar as an anti-corruption tool stems from its uniqueness. A unique number linked to an individual’s biometrics means that no one else can pretend to be the person receiving benefits, and therefore cannot defraud him or her.” 

 

The fact is that he has himself revealed in the US that biometric Aadhaar is a tool for surveillance. Not surprisingly, lower court of Goa and CBI sensed it.

 

Delivering a lecture at Center for Global Development at Washington on 22 April 2013 Nilekani admitted, “Now, biometrics has a big history in the world. Biometrics was first used in India in the 1870s, when the British used it for land titling, and they also used people's fingerprints to record the registration of documents. Historically, and up until a few years ago, the use of biometrics was essentially in forensics. It was about using biometrics for crime investigation and crime protection… But, after 9/11, biometrics has increasingly been used for the purpose of surveillance, or security, or for immigration control.

 

Has Nilekani or Congress party ever informed fellow congressmen or compatriots that its biometric Aadhaar is going to be used for surveillance and security etc.? Is Congress Party ignorant of the fact that on 16 August 1908, in a public protest under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, certificates based on biometric data like fingerprints were burnt? 

 

Nilekani claims, “It is increasingly the people most interested in diversion and continuing corruption, who will be most resistant to using Aadhaar for services.”

 

A list of the names of Congress MPs, MLAs and ministers who are promoters of Aadhaar to reveal in writing as to who all among them have enrolled for Aadhaar and subjected themselves to biometric profiling. It is the Congress party’s MP’s, MLAs and ministers “who are the people most interested in diversion and continuing corruption.”  

 

The claim that “Aadhaar is the first identity for a lot of Indians across the country” is factually incorrect. Indians have 16 pre-existing identity proofs endorsed by the Election Commission of India including voter ID cards. Congress, as a party, which got 89.11% of its money from unaccounted sources and unnamed sources, will have us believe unlike the Election Commission, that all the parliamentary elections and those who were elected, were voted without Indians having any identity.

 

Now that these scandalous facts that have pernicious implication for the life and death of India as a sovereign nation-state, it is intriguing as to why while opposition parties like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and CPI, CPM and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Medha Patkar have denounced biometric Aadhaar but refrained from promising that they will scrap Aadhaar and UID number generating NPR related programs because it is manifestly illegal. It is baffling as why instead of dealing with the issue of world’s biggest biometric database matter urgently, it has been listed for hearing on 28 April 2014 after the sixth phase of the nine phase election on 24th April is over. 
         

You may also want to read…
 

Why biometric identification of citizens must be resisted? Part I
 

Biometric identification is modern day enslavement -Part II
 

Biometric profiling, including DNA, is dehumanising -Part III
 

Marketing and advertising blitzkrieg of biometric techies and supporters -Part IV
 

History of technologies reveals it is their owners who are true beneficiaries -Part V
 

UID's promise of service delivery to poor hides IT, biometrics industry profits –Part VI
 

Technologies and technology companies are beyond regulation? -Part VII
 

Surveillance through biometrics-based Aadhaar –Part VIII
 

Narendra Modi biometrically profiled. What about Congress leaders?-Part IX
 

Aadhaar: Why opposition ruled states are playing partner for biometric UID? -Part X

 

Is Nandan Nilekani acting as an agent of non-state actors? –Part XI

 

Aadhaar and UPA govt's obsession for private sector benefits–Part XII
 

CIA-funded MongoDB partners with UIDAI to handle Aadhaar data –Part XIII

 

Are Indians being used as guinea pigs of biometric technology companies? -Part XIV
 

Aadhaar: Is the biometric data of human body immortal and ageless? Part XV
 

Aadhaar: The propaganda of transnational vested interests –Part XVI

 

Aadhaar: Pakistan handed over, India giving database on a platter– Part XVII
 

Engineered row in US-India relations, an attention diversion tactics of big brothers?—Part XVIII

 

Aadhaar: UIDAI and the ‘fifth column’ of Napoleon—Part XIX
 

Aadhaar: Turning citizens into subjects through social control technology companies –PartXX

 

Why Kejriwal govt in Delhi should abandon biometric Aadhaar?—Part XXI

 

Aadhaar for LPG: Oil companies, Ministry of Petroleum & UIDAI disobeying Supreme Court order–Part XXII

 

Why Vasundhara Raje should immediately withdraw circulars making Aadhaar mandatory -Part XXIII

 

How Congress has been proven wrong on biometric Aadhaar and NPR -Part XXIV

 

Aadhaar, NPR, UN resolution and deafening silence of political parties –Part XXV
 

Is Congress converging UID numbers of EVMs and Indian voters? –Part XXVI

 

Is our political class trapped by economic hit men from database empires? -Part XXVII
 

Aadhaar & database risks: Will India evaporate to become nobody in our life time? –Part XXIX

 

How BJP’s Yashwant Sinha is wrong about ‘biometric’ National Population Register –Part XXX

 

(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)

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COMMENTS

Gopalakrishnan T V

5 years ago

Aadhar instead of emerging as a tool to prevent Corruption and mis use of subsidy has become the source of Corruption and information sharing about individuals' privacy exposing to all possible inconveniences, harassments and unknown risks. In the name of UID many sections of the society have made huge money apart grom the Government spending in thousands of Crores ranging between 50000 crores and 115000 crores as reported by media. Many have lost also their hard earned money.Nandan Nilekani a well respected and a high tech person known nationally and internationally unfortunaely fell a victim of the Politicians' gameplan and spoiled his image. Unfortunately he has joined the Congress and is fighting the election. The Concept of Unique ID is excellent but it could have been linked to other personal identtifications of individuals and Mr Nandan should have kept Government agencies away from the very compilation and issue of UID cards. Government agencies are known for Corrupt practices and corruption and making fast bucks in the name of UID spread all over the Country and milliuons of people spent huge sums to get the required documents and the ir linkages. Gas agencies in some places insisted for Notary signatures for acceptance of even genuine documents and they referred all consumers to some selected Notaries and they have to be paid anything between Rs 250 and Rs 400. Photo studios and xerox Copy (Vendors) made a killing apart from some middlemen who arrange false or genuine documents and help the masses to apply for AAdhar Cards. Easy money for many became an order adding to several other problems. The very idea of issuing Aadhar card was ill conceived and wrongly executed without studying the implications and the negative impacts on the society. The result is loss of Tax payers Money, loss of money for the aspirants, loss of stationery and loss of man hours and energy.Now UID is of no use and it has let loose legal entanglements in several cases.

Bantwal

5 years ago

Mr Nandan Nilekani is making wrong statements, the culture and ideology of Congress Party, which he is going to represent in Bangalore South and get elected on Congress ticket. He has oined congress since he likes congis ideologies An Alert

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