Enormous number of complaints of corruption and enrolment process violations against Aadhaar enrolment and update centres under CSC e-Gov, says UIDAI while asking its sibling to close Aadhaar services business
In a remarkable move that exposes the deep rot within the Aadhaar enrolment process, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the agency assigned to issue Aadhaar numbers has rejected renewal request of another government company Common Services Centres (CSC) e-Governance Services India Ltd for its Aadhaar services. UIDIAI was concerned about the “enormous number of complaints of corruption and violations in enrolment process.” It has decided, under the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office, that Aadhaar enrolment centres would now only function at government premises or bank and post offices. 
 
Ashok Kumar, Assistant Director General of UIDAI, in a letter dated 6 February 2018, said, "In view of the enormous number of complaints of corruption and enrolment process violations against Aadhaar enrolment and update centres under CSC e-Gov it may not be possible to extend or renew the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CSC."
 
"CSC is therefore requested to process its exit from the UIDAI system as per extant procedure and guidelines and close Aadhaar enrolment and update centres working under it in phase manner without causing inconvenience to the general public," the letter says.
 
 
Interestingly, both UIDAI and CSC e-Governance Services, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) work under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY). The CSC SPV was set up by the Ministry under the Companies Act to oversee implementation of the CSC scheme. CSC SPV provides a centralised collaborative framework for delivery of services to citizens through CSCs, besides ensuring systemic viability and sustainability of the Scheme.
 
And just last month, UIDAI had joined hands with CSC India to launch door step enrolment facility in New Delhi for elderly, patients and others who could not travel to Aadhaar centres. The mobile van was flagged off by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and IT. 
 
 
According to a 2 February 2018 newsletter from CSC, its 11,280 permanent enrolment centres (PECs) have generated 18.09 crore Aadhaar numbers with total enrolment of 26.83 crore. It has updated demographic and biometric information of 5.16 crore people, the newsletter says.
 
The Common Services Centres or CSC scheme is one of the mission mode projects under the Digital India Programme. CSCs are the access points for delivery of essential public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services, apart from host of B2C services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country. It has a pan-India network catering to regional, geographic, linguistic and cultural diversity of the country, thus enabling the Government’s mandate of a socially, financially and digitally inclusive society.
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COMMENTS

seo iaadhar

5 months ago

as it mentioned UIDIAI was concerned about the “enormous number of complaints of corruption and violations in enrolment process.” It has decided, under the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office, that Aadhaar enrolment centres would now only function at government premises or bank and post offices. click here

seo iaadhar

5 months ago

Hi,
As it is mentioned to close the aadhar centres as enormous number of complaints of corruption and enrolment process violations against Aadhaar enrolmentmore violation has been recorded. You can check online for aadhar updates.

samruddhi samruddhi

1 year ago

There is a lot of Problems with Aadhar Centers being given to Tom Dick and Harry without any proper evaluation system in place. Even Political Netas have started enrollment centers as an social initiative , but defeating the purpose of Social and Citizen Service. There is a lot of discrepancy, unlawful charging, Forcing the Citizen to go in for Plastic Aadhar Card which is not required, Printing of the same in special glossy sheet and charging exorbitant amount etc. Plastic Laminated Aadhar Cards have been taken by many of the Citizens and surprisingly being used by them in Banks etc, where they do not raise eyebrows at all . Citizens have paid Rs.100 to Rs.250/- to procure the same. It is not that UIDAI was not aware of the same , because it was being done by their Agents only and also certain social and political Bureaucrats to gain or support their Netagiri. Merry cautioning against going for Plastic Cards will not resolve the issue. It has to totally stand non-accepted by the Service Industry like Banks, Government Institutions, Travelling etc. A lot of Agency have flouted rules happily and made money by providing Plastic Laminated Cards to Citizens and they proudly showcase the same . Literate Citizens have fallen prey to Plastic Laminated Aadhar Cards , forget the illiterate Class . UIDAI has to take a tough stand and ask Banks, Institutions to take back the Plasitc Laminated Cards, Destroy them in front of the Citizens.

Meenal Mamdani

1 year ago

I am heartened to see that a govt body can take serious action against another govt body for failing to live up to its promise. Normally govt bodies shelter each other, so good to see that shoddy and corrupt practices are being called out.
While I have heard nothing but complaints from urban people I interact with, I was recently heartened to hear the views of the head of a NGO that is doing excellent work with the disenfranchised.
The founder of this NGO said to me that Nilekani was a brilliant technocrat but because the implementation was so poor, a very good idea, Aadhar, was lambasted by every one.
We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

REPLY

Bharat Varma

In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 1 year ago

Aadhaar, a very good idea?

It is INCOMPATIBLE with Democracy. By reducing a person to a mere biometric (that can be copied easily, cannot be changed or revoked of compromised and is subject to all sorts of uncertainties and manipulations), aadhaar DESTROYS identity.

Hemant

In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 1 year ago

Well said.

Mayank Kumar

1 year ago

Govt. & UIDAI making fool of people and causing enormous corruption, loot and inconvenience to common citizen... SBI branch in Jahangir Puri, New Delhi giving token numbers of after 3 months for getting simple update done and same people updating aadhaar by taking 200 to 300 rs in evening. This is disgusting and this is happening with all allocated banks and post offices.. Do you think a person would wait for 3 months to get the things updated... Just making different ways to loot customers...

R Balakrishnan

1 year ago

The damage has already been done. Finally, Aadhaar is no good as any proof of anything-

REPLY

samruddhi samruddhi

In Reply to R Balakrishnan 1 year ago

Very True. Will Dearly Cost the Nation and Citizens in the Future.

“Personhood under the Indian Constitution flows from being alive, and not from registering oneself in a central database” –Shyam Divan
The Supreme Court on Thursday resumed hearing in the Aadhaar case. Here is the summary of arguments from Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, who is appearing for the petitioners in the Aadhaar case…
 
Existence of a person
Mr Divan told the five-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, that if a person exists in flesh and blood, then there should be no question of denying her anything. “This is at the core of Article 21 and the relationship between the individual and the State. In a liberal democratic culture, can the State say that I will choose to recognise you only in this manner, otherwise you cease to exist?
 
“There is no concept of eminent domain as far as the body is concerned. The body cannot be used as a marker for every service. The State has a legitimate interest in identifying a person, and so there could be a set of limited, narrowly tailored circumstances where you are required to give up fingerprints, such as for a passport or a driving license,” he said.
 
Mr Divan, who completed his arguments before lunch summed his contention in four points, personal autonomy, constitutional trust, rule of law and surveillance and privacy. He said, “What is at stake here? First, personal autonomy is at stake. Are we going to cede complete control of the body to the State? In a digital world, personal autonomy extends to protecting biometrics.”
 
“The second point is constitutional trust. We have created the State, and now the State trusts us as unworthy unless we cede our biometerics. The Aadhaar program treats the entire nation as presumptively criminal. The third point is the rule of law. Look at how this project has been rolled out. And the fourth point is surveillance and privacy,” he said.
 
“If this (Aadhaar) program is allowed to roll on unimpeded, think of the domination the State will have over the individual,” the senior counsel warned. 
 
Deaths caused by Aadhaar exclusion
Earlier, Mr Divan read affidavits related with starvation deaths in Jharkhand due to failure of Aadhaar linking. He said, “The issues here pertain to exclusion, death, and dignity. The reports are about extreme situations. The basic point is that in a democracy, there has to be an element of choice. There cannot be just one method of identification imposed.”
 
Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud said one thing the Court needs to look at is the level of internet penetration in the country.
 
Mr Divan replied saying, "The point of sales (PoS) machine has a memory, so if the internet fails, the machine is often taken to another place where there is connectivity. However, all Aadhaar can do is stop a very limited kind of misuse (identity fraud), and there are other ways to weed out leakages."
 
Observing that the affidavit seems to show that even after Aadhaar, the citizen remains dependant on the dealer of public distribution scheme (PDS), Justice Chandrachud said, while such argument may not furnish a constitutional ground, but the argument that Aadhaar itself is causing exclusion may furnish a ground under Article 14.
 
Mr Divan pointed out how persons who cannot authenticate are treated as "ghosts", and as mere statistics, which cannot meet the tests under Articles 14, 19, and 21. “This is especially so because the system is coercive,” he added.
 
The senior counsel then highlighted how there is no way for anyone to opt out of Aadhaar. He said, “This is crucial from an informational self-determination point of view. There must be a right to opt out.”
 
He then read out affidavits filed by people who have asked to be opt-out from Aadhaar as they were not provided genuine information about consent at the time of enrolment. When Mr Divan read out collective affidavit from people, who wanted to opt-out from Aadhaar in Meghalaya, Justice Chandrachud asked about the position of Aadhaar in North-East. Mr Divan said, there are places where the Aadhaar roll out is low and they have been exempted. 
 
Security Audit highlights risks of hacking
Dr Rakesh Mohan Goel, a computer industry expert, and an occasional writer for Moneylife who has audited enrolment centres of Aadhaar had filed an affidavit in the Court. Reading out this affidavit, Mr Divan said, he (Dr Goel) found out that those people at enrolment centres were retaining and storing biometric data and the UIDAI had no way of knowing. 
 
He said, “Dr Goel's affidavit says that the biometrics of Indians are available to private entities, can be and are being stored in logs. The affidavit says that because of the architecture of Aadhaar, UIDAI has very little control over this. Dr Goel has annexed a paper to the affidavit, based on 25 audits, that talks about six ways of hacking. The affidavit says that there is no way of knowing, after an audit, whether the storage is continuing or has stopped.”
 
“When you part with something as precious as biometrics, there has to be a fiduciary relationship between you and the person taking it. How can you trust a system like this?" the senior counsel contended. 
 
Mr Divan, replying to a query from Justice Chandrachud, said while the UIDAI has technical specification about the authentication machines, the purchase is private. 
 
Citing an example of credit card frauds, Justice Chandrachud wanted to know if this could be possible with Aadhaar. Mr Divan said, it is possible to hack into these systems, which are not as secure than the CIDR. 
 
He then read out Dr Goel’s academic article that explains six ways of hacking.
 
The senior counsel then argued on bodily integrity and the right to control one's information about oneself. He said, “Basic point is that this is a reason why people do not want to be on Aadhaar, and why they should not be mandated to get into the system. While some of these leaks can be plugged, but the basic design is faulty.”
 
He cited the recent incident from Surat where the police arrested two owners of fair price shops for using a software that contained ration card numbers, Aadhaar card numbers and biometric thumb impressions of PDS beneficiaries for creating fake records of food grain sale. The software, with bulk data of beneficiaries, was available for Rs15,000. 
 
Mr Divan then took the Court through mechanism of producing artificial fingerprints. “The operator's fingerprints are cloned. When UIDAI found this out, they added iris authentication. However, the hackers then found a way to bypass that as well. First point is that cloning of fingerprints is easy and it is possible, and is being done. What is the integrity of such system, and why should anyone trust this? This is a question of my right to protect my body and my identity. If the system is so insecure, why am I being mandated to authenticate through fingerprints for every transaction?” he contended.  
 
The senior counsel pointed to a reply received under Right to Information (RTI) in 2017 that says that 6.23 crore biometric enrolments have been rejected because of duplicates. This is larger than the population of Gujarat. He says, “More the database expands, given that this is a probabilistic system, the more times you will have a match. This is indicative of exclusion, and that the system is saturated, leading to unjustified rejections.”
  
Mr Divan then read out an affidavit filed by Dr Reetika Khera, who is an economist at IIT Delhi, and works on the NREGA. The affidavit shows biometric authentication failure at a tribal school, where those whose fingerprints were not recognised by Aadhaar, were not marked present. “These (students) are not ghosts in the system. They are flesh and blood girls attending the school, and Aadhaar is not recognising them. Secondly, you are creating records for an entire lifetime, starting from school. Is this not a surveillance society? Thirdly, there is no statutory sanction,” he said.
 
Justice AK Sikri that in fact later, the teachers may be hauled up for inflating numbers.
 
Mr Divan said, personhood under the Indian Constitution flows from being alive, and not from registering oneself in a central database. "This degrades free individuals".
 
Mr Divan and his office has been with the Aadhaar challenge since its origins in 2012, and have appeared in every hearing for the last six years.
 
Based on live tweets of @gautambhatia88, who is representing one of the petitioners and @prasanna_s.
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seo iaadhar

5 months ago

Hi,
As you said,Basic point is that this is a reason why people do not want to be on Aadhaar, and why they should not be mandated to get into the system. While some of these leaks can be plugged, but the basic design is faulty.Please check for REPLY

Rahul JFL

1 year ago

Since the day aadhaar is introduced, my life has become living hell. I am 36 currently, work in IT company so no hard work, do not have any kind of skin infection/aliments. The machines at almost 30+ enrollment centres I have tried recently like a week back reject my fingerprints as poor quality (Red squared with 20%) quality. The operators there refuse to process my application further using just IRIS scan. The new organisation where I joined recently insists that without aadhaar, my joining is not deemed complete and further my payroll will be on hold till then. I seriously hope that the judges will scrap this faulty, full of loop hole system asap.

REPLY

Aarmin Banaji

In Reply to Rahul JFL 1 year ago

Rahul, do you not think it is high time for conscientious citizens to scrap the cavalier judges? I certainly do!

c babu challa

1 year ago

Advocate Shyam Divan has given all proofs and explanations. ?When is the final judgment going to come out. Meanwhile the last date of aadhar linking March 31st is fast approaching. Already there is lot of coercing to get linked. A speedy conclusion is the need of the hour.

David M. Thangliana

1 year ago

Thank you Moneylife for these updates on the Aadhaar issue. I have been following these updates regularly with hope that the Supreme Court would take the necessary actions to link all and sundry to Aadhaar

Mahesh S Bhatt

1 year ago

Prabhu aap toh Shyamji bhi Ho toh Gita protect ki jayegi and its ethos too surely.There is saying
When Kings Becomes Traders
Subjects becomes Paupers.
That's not what State is to do.
Mahesh Bhatt

Mahesh S Bhatt

1 year ago

Kudos Divanji Jai Ho Bharat Mata ke suputra ki God Bless Mahesh Bhatt

Aarmin Banaji

1 year ago

I too join in the kudos to Shyam Divan, however can someone please enlighten me as to when this farce in the SC will provide a definitive ruling? They have not covered themselves in glory by stretching this issue to this length.

If I was a betting man, I would bet that the ruling (which should come at least a month before 31st March ?) will leave all us naysayers, abjectly disappointed. The manner in which the SC has conducted itself makes that highly probable.
And all this besides what was said in your excellent article of 07 February 2018 - 'Unique ID is not Unique, does not certify anything, says UIDAI' by Dr Anupam Saraph.

c babu challa

1 year ago

Hats off to Advocate Shyam Divan and his team for relentlessly fighting the case of Aadhar and the maladies. Hope the learned Judges will give a valuable judgement and give relief to the people from fraudulent use of Aadhar data.

Pankaj

1 year ago

Fifteen years back when I completed my education in computer engineering, I was deeply fascinated about developing biometric identification system. I also did my academic project on facial recognition. Today, after fifteen years of experience in computer engineering I have a smartphone capable of facial and fingerprint identification. I have disabled these two features forever. I have gone to extent that I have sealed the fingerprint scanner with a foil and duct tape. I have done so, because I am aware of the dangers of using biometric identification. This is one of the reasons I am a staunch opposer of Aadhar program since it's inception.
Hats off the Mr Shyam Divanji for his excellent efforts on fighting case against Aadhar card. I am very much indebted to Mr. Shyam Divanji as I feel he is fighting for my rights and safety. I wish him success.

REPLY

c babu challa

In Reply to Pankaj 1 year ago

Mr.Pankaj your comment gives more strength to the arguments against Aadhar. I am sure and sincerely hope a very sincerelythought out plan will emerge to safe guard the interests of the people.

Ravi Singh

1 year ago

ADHAAR enrolment should be voluntary and restricted to those availing subsidies and state benefits.

REPLY

Param

In Reply to Ravi Singh 1 year ago

i totally agree. in fact that was the fundamental premise of aadhaar - weeding out ghost beneficiaries & people abusing the welfare benefits.
the unfortunate part is that now everyone wants aadhaar - even if i'm not availing any benefits.
it made sense for lpg subsidy. but i have given it up & now i'm still being asked for it. when i say that i'm not availing subsidy, they say it is govt orders and they are helpless.
when i apply for mobile connection, they want aadhaar (despite me having passport). when i ask what govt subsidy am i being given, they say it is govt orders and they are helpless.
now they are asking aadhaar number for my kid who is studying in a private school. when i ask what govt subsidy i'm availing, they say it is govt orders and they are helpless.
in short, everyone seems to be following orders but they can't show me what those orders are!!!

Dayananda Kamath

1 year ago

It is nothing but empowering corrupt with data to target the victims to harass. All the benefits the govt claims are because of callous and corrupt officials fully backed protected and promoted by political bosses of the day. And through Aadhaar they want to have full control to target the targets.
Actually people should ask all those who voted in favour of Aadhaar law should be debarred from holding public office and contesting election for life. Because symbolically they have made the whole of India open jail

“Aadhaar represents a complete breakdown of trust as it presumes if you don't have it, then you are a crook” –Shyam Divan
The Supreme Court on Thursday resumed hearing in the Aadhaar case. Here is the summary of arguments from Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, who is appearing for the petitioners in the Aadhaar case…
 
Mr Divan told the five judge Bench that Aadhaar is based on the assumption that we are a nation of knaves. “This represents a complete breakdown of trust, because the presumption is that if you do not have Aadhaar, then you are a crook. In a liberal democracy, routine everyday transactions cannot be made conditional on a barter of your biometric information,” he said.
 
How UIDAI violates every norm and SC orders
He said Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has violated multiple orders passed by the apex court saying that Aadhaar must be voluntary. “UIDAI took no responsibility for the safety of the data. UIDAI created an aura of necessity and used enrolled whose quality was dubious. UIDAI ignored the 2011 Standing Committee's recommendations, and pressed ahead in order to create a fait accompli. UIDAI actively funded the State Resident Data Hubs (SRDH) so that datasets proliferated, without statutory backing,” Mr Divan said.
 
The senior counsel contended that UIDAI ignored norms laid down by the Supreme Court since 1975, which articulated the fundamental right to privacy, and which was unanimously affirmed in the privacy judgment. All these judgments said that you must have a law if you want to infringe on privacy.
 
Talking about rule of law, Mr Divan said, “The notification of 2009 constituting UIDAI did not mention biometrics or fingerprints. The statutory norm for collecting demographic data was the census Act. UIDAI did not follow this. The ID of Prisoners Act and the Bombay Habitual Offenders Act had established statutory norms for collection of fingerprints. However, UIDAI violated all these norms.”
 
Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud enquired about use of multiple interfaces between individual and the State like tax, electricity bills and wanted to know how use of Aadhaar instead of PAN would be different in such scenario. "...your argument seems to be a problem with centralisation. Is it the centralisation that what makes it unconstitutional? Because every time I use a device with an IP, say to book an Uber, my location can be tracked. What is the specific additional problem with Aadhaar," he asked Mr Divan.
 
Replying to the query, Mr Divan said, "The first problem as you have correctly pointed out is centralisation. Normally, you have information silos."
 
To this, Justice Chandrachud said they are all tracking location that is common denominator.
 
"This is where the European Court of Human Rights-ECHR judgement in digital rights judgement comes in. They said, you cannot maintain logs. Why? Because it is one thing if a particular utility provider knows about your location. But what happens with centralisation is you have complete tracking. In the present regime, that allows tracking of IP plus ID. Look at the situation 25 years from now. If we fail in this case, 25 years from now we will be addressing "Aadhaar judges." Because there is a full log. Right now, it is limited to schools and scholarships. They are planning for airports as well. At this point, you have multiple IDs. Take the PAN card example. You give one ID, you are identified, and avail your benefit. There is satisfaction with respect to the authority, and there is no question of surveillance."
 
Elaborating further on surveillance Mr Divan said, "I want to stress that I am not saying that somebody is sitting behind the screen and watching. It is about the architecture of the program and this is why it has never been under proper scrutiny. No other free liberal society in the world has tried this because it simple would not pass the muster."
 
To this, Justice Chandrachud said his bank maintains a central repository of all his transactions. He said, "We are constantly entering into a world of surrendering our identity - it may be a choice but it is still a central database. If we are willing to surrender our identity, then does the fact that the State is collecting information make a difference? Would it be satisfactory if there were norms governing collection and use?"
 
Mr Divan replied, "This is not a question of checks and balances, because the architecture (of Aadhaar) is that of pervasive surveillance. I am alive to the concern that you cannot go back to the pre-digital age, and that is not what I am suggesting."
 
He then read out part of the Kesavananda Bharati judgment that says that social and economic revolution has to be achieved consistent with respect for civil and political rights. "Could the Preamble conceive of a State where I am standing there in flesh and blood, with alternative ways of identifying myself, but can be denied my entitlements?" he asked.
 
Trust between State and citizen is at the heart of the constitutional governance
Further going back to the privacy judgment on the concept of limited government, the senior counsel read out an elaboration of democracy by the Chief Justice in Manoj Narula vs Union of India case. He also quoted from President Ram Nath Kovind's speech, where the President had talked about how trust between State and citizen is at the heart of the constitutional governance.
 
Mr Divan said, "An individual is entitled to develop her personality without being tracked and registered. In a liberal democracy, routine everyday transactions cannot be made conditional on a barter of your biometric information."
 
Talking about element of limited government, the senior counsel said, "It is a shared enterprise between the people and the government. Another element of limited government is autonomy and the idea of space - the idea that I can do something without the State necessarily knowing. A final element of limited government is the idea of giving citizens a choice in establishing an identity in both interactions with the State and with private parties."
 
"The State has advanced two justifications - giving people an identity, and savings. Both these claims are undermined by the State's own documents. The Aadhaar enrolment system requires a pre-existing identity, and if you do not have it, then an introducer is required. According to government statistics, the number of people who used the introducer system is 0.03% (a little over 2 lakh). This does not mean that I win my case, but it is important to have the facts on record."
 
"Consequently, the question is that can such small numbers justify such a vast an invasive system. We are not saying that identity is not important for the small number who did not have it, but the point is whether it is justified to resort to Aadhaar," Mr Divan said.
 
Questionable Total Welfare Savings
Talking about second justification by the government for Aadhaar, Mr Divan said they said it is for welfare and savings. He said, "There are different type of malpractices. The first is that you fake your data and claim to be eligible when you are not. Second, quantity fraud. Third, identity fraud. Aadhaar can at best only deal with the third type of fraud."
 
"The World Bank has estimated a saving of $11 billion per annum. Union of India has relied on this by saying that the World Bank is independent and will not indulge in puffery. In another affidavit the Union of India has used the same figure of $11 billion. Recently Paul Romer resigned from the World Bank citing no integrity in the data. This is one excellent example. There is some dispute over what exactly the pleadings were with respect to the issue of puffery."
 
"The claim footnoted a 2011 article, which made no such claims. That article used the $11 billion figure to talk about transfers from five schemes, and talked only about the value of the transfers. Therefore the World Bank claim stands discredited. The figure was the total disbursement. There was no mention of savings. After this was revealed, the World Bank replaces the citation with its own footnote. Maybe the World Bank did not know, but the government official who signed the affidavit surely should have known that this figure is wrong," Mr Divan said.
 
Questionable MNREGA Savings
Discarding claims made by the government of saving for the MGNREGA scheme, the senior counsel said, the claimed benefits through direct benefit transfer-DBT and Aadhaar savings are Rs11,741 crore. UIDAI records show that the 74 lakh NREGA job cards were seeded with Aadhaar, out of which out 67,000 were found to be bogus. These were all in Tripura. A Lok Sabha question was asked, where the figure given was 63,000. Aadhaar therefore eliminated 63,000. The maximum savings this would yield is Rs127 crore. This is less than 5% of the claimed saving of Rs3,000 crore. In an RTI, questions were asked about the scale of savings and the method but no specific methodology was provided. It was just said that savings are in terms of efficiency and reducing delay. Nothing about fraud. In another year 93,000 job cards were cancelled, but many far reasons other than them being fake. In an RTI reply it was found that the number of cards cancelled for being fake were 1%"
 
To this, Chief Justice Dipak Misra commented, "Mr Divan's point is that the margin of exclusion is high and the margin of inclusion is low. His argument is that the larger public interest cannot be invoked to justify the extinction of individualism."
 
Mr Divan agreed with the Chief Justice. 
 
Questionable LPG Subsidy Savings
Mr Divan then talked about subsidy claims under liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and concerns raised by Comptroller and auditor general (CAG).
 
He said, "The LPG linking began as a pilot in 2014. The figures given in UIDAI affidavit is Rs14,000 crore of savings. However, minutes from the Cabinet Secretariat show an annual subsidy saving of Rs91 crore. Compare 14,000 with 91. What happened was that long before Aadhaar, the National Informatics Centre (NIC) came up with a scheme to weed out duplicates. The savings occurred long before Aadhaar. The CAG report is specifically with respect to the implementation of the LPG linking scheme, and the CAG has specifically said that you cannot attribute the savings to the Aadhaar linking, because the savings come from the NIC's earlier program to weed out duplicates. In fact, the CAG specifically said that part of the savings is because of people not linking Aadhaar. This actually points to exclusion. So what really is the scale of the savings then?"
 
Based on live tweets of @gautambhatia88 who is representing one of the petitioners and @prasanna_s.
 
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Mahesh S Bhatt

1 year ago

This story was co-published with The Globe and Mail.

Shortly before a Toronto City Council vote in December on whether to tighten regulation of short-term rental companies, an entity called Airbnb Citizen ran an ad on the Facebook news feeds of a selected audience, including Toronto residents over the age of 26 who listen to Canadian public radio. The ad featured a photo of a laughing couple from downtown Toronto, with the caption, “Airbnb hosts from the many wards of Toronto raise their voices in support of home sharing. Will you?”

Placed by an interested party to influence a political debate, this is exactly the sort of ad on Facebook that has attracted intense scrutiny. Facebook has acknowledged that a group with ties to the Russian government placed more than 3,000 such ads to influence voters during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Facebook has also said it plans to avoid a repeat of the Russia fiasco by improving transparency. An approach it’s rolling out in Canada now, and plans to expand to other countries this summer, enables Facebook users outside an advertiser’s targeted audience to see ads. The hope is that enhanced scrutiny will keep advertisers honest and make it easier to detect foreign interference in politics. So we used a remote connection, called a virtual private network, to log into Facebook from Canada and see how this experiment is working.

The answer: It’s an improvement, but nowhere near the openness sought by critics who say online political advertising is a Wild West compared with the tightly regulated worlds of print and broadcast.

The new strategy — which Facebook announced in October, just days before a U.S. Senate hearing on the Russian online manipulation efforts — requires every advertiser to have a Facebook page. Whenever the advertiser is running an ad, the post is automatically placed in a new “Ads” section of the Facebook page, where any users in Canada can view it even if they aren’t part of the intended audience.

Facebook has said that the Canada experiment, which has been running since late October, is the first step toward a more robust setup that will let users know which group or company placed an ad and what other ads it’s running. “Transparency helps everyone, especially political watchdog groups and reporters, keep advertisers accountable for who they say they are and what they say to different groups,” Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president of ads, wrote before the launch.

While the new approach makes ads more accessible, they’re only available temporarily, can be hard to find, and can still mislead users about the advertiser’s identity, according to ProPublica’s review. The Airbnb Citizen ad — which we discovered via a ProPublica tool called the Political Ad Collector — is a case in point. Airbnb Citizen professed on its Facebook page to be a “community of hosts, guests and other believers in the power of home sharing to help tackle economic, environmental and social challenges around the world.” Its Facebook page didn’t mention that it is actually a marketing and public policy arm of Airbnb, a for-profit company.


A reproduction of Airbnb Citizen’s ad, via ProPublica’s Political Ad Collector
The ad was part of an effort by the company to drum up support as it fought rental restrictions in Toronto. “These ads were one of the many ways that we engaged in the process before the vote,” Airbnb said. However, anyone who looked on Airbnb’s own Facebook page wouldn’t have found it.

Airbnb told ProPublica that it is clear about its connection to Airbnb Citizen. Airbnb’s webpage links to Airbnb Citizen’s webpage, and Airbnb Citizen’s webpage is copyrighted by Airbnb and uses part of the Airbnb logo. Airbnb said Airbnb Citizen provides information on local home-sharing rules to people who rent out their homes through Airbnb. “Airbnb has always been transparent about our advertising and public engagement efforts,” the statement said.

Political parties in Canada are already benefiting from the test to investigate ads from rival groups, said Nader Mohamed, digital director of Canada’s New Democratic Party, which has the third largest representation in Canada’s Parliament. “You’re going to be more careful with what you put out now, because you could get called on it at any time,” he said. Mohamed said he still expects heavy spending on digital advertising in upcoming campaigns.

After launching the test, Facebook demonstrated its new process to Elections Canada, the independent agency responsible for conducting federal elections there. Elections Canada recommended adding an archive function, so that ads no longer running could still be viewed, said Melanie Wise, the agency’s assistant director for media relations and issues management. The initiative is “helpful” but should go further, Wise said.

Some experts were more critical. Facebook’s new test is “useless,” said Ben Scott, a senior advisor at the think tank New America and a fellow at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship in Toronto who specializes in technology policy. “If an advertiser is inclined to do something unethical, this level of disclosure is not going to stop them. You would have to have an army of people checking pages constantly.”

More effective ways of policing ads, several experts said, might involve making more information about advertisers and their targeting strategies readily available to users from links on ads and in permanent archives. But such tactics could alienate advertisers reluctant to share information with competitors, cutting into Facebook’s revenue. Instead, in Canada, Facebook automatically puts ads up on the advertiser’s Facebook page, and doesn’t indicate the target audience there.

Facebook’s test represents the least the company can do and still avoid stricter regulation on political ads, particularly in the U.S., said Mark Surman, a Toronto resident and executive director of Mozilla, a nonprofit Internet advocacy group that makes the Firefox web browser. “There are lots of people in the company who are trying to do good work. But it’s obvious if you’re Facebook that you’re trying not to get into a long conversation with Congress,” Surman said.

Facebook said it’s listening to its critics. “We’re talking to advertisers, industry folks and watchdog groups and are taking this kind of feedback seriously,” Rob Leathern, Facebook director of product management for ads, said in an email. “We look forward to continue working with lawmakers on the right solution, but we also aren’t waiting for legislation to start getting solutions in place,” he added. The company declined to provide data on how many people in Canada were using the test tools.

Download the Extension
You can download the Facebook Political Ad Collector from the Chrome Web Store or the Mozilla Add-ons Store.

Facebook is not the only internet company facing questions about transparency in advertising. Twitter also pledged in October before the Senate hearing that “in the coming weeks” it would build a platform that would “offer everyone visibility into who is advertising on Twitter, details behind those ads, and tools to share your feedback.” So far, nothing has been launched.

Facebook has more than 23 million monthly users in Canada, according to the company. That’s more than 60 percent of Canada’s population but only about 1 percent of Facebook’s user base. The company has said it is launching its new ad-transparency plan in Canada because it already has a program there called the Canadian Election Integrity Initiative. That initiative was in response to a Canadian federal government report, “Cyber Threats to Canada’s Democratic Process,” which warned that “multiple hacktivist groups will very likely deploy cyber capabilities in an attempt to influence the democratic process during the 2019 federal election.” The election integrity plan promotes news literacy and offers a guide for politicians and political parties to avoid getting hacked.

Compared to the U.S., Canada’s laws allow for much stricter government regulation of political advertising, said Michael Pal, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. He said Facebook’s transparency initiative was a good first step but that he saw the extension of strong campaign rules into internet advertising as inevitable in Canada. “This is the sort of question that, in Canada, is going to be handled by regulation,” Pal said.

Several Canadian technology policy experts who spoke with ProPublica said Facebook’s new system was too inconvenient for the average user. There’s no central place where people can search the millions of ads on Facebook to see what ads are running about a certain subject, so unless users are part of the target audience, they wouldn’t necessarily know that a group is even running an ad. If users somehow hear about an ad or simply want to check whether a company or group is running one, they must first navigate to the group’s Facebook page and then click a small tab on the side labeled “Ads” that runs alongside other tabs such as “Videos” and “Community.” Once the user clicks the “Ads” tab, a page opens showing every ad that the page owner is running at that time, one after another.

The group’s Facebook page isn’t always linked from the text of the ad. If it isn’t, users can still find the Facebook page by navigating to the “Why am I seeing this?” link in a drop-down menu at the top right of each ad in their news feed.

As soon as a marketing campaign is over, an ad can no longer be found on the “Ads” page at all. When ProPublica checked the Airbnb Citizen Facebook page a week after collecting the ad, it was no longer there.

Read More

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Among the companies we found doing it: Amazon, Verizon, UPS and Facebook itself. “It’s blatantly unlawful,” said one employment law expert.
Because the “Ads” page also doesn’t disclose the demographics of the advertiser’s target audience, people can only see that data on ads that were aimed at them and were on their own Facebook news feed. Without this information, people outside an ad’s selected audience can’t see to whom companies or politicians are tailoring their messages. ProPublica reported last year that dozens of major companies directed recruitment ads on Facebook only to younger people — information that would likely interest older workers, but would still be concealed from them under the new policy. One recent ad by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was directed at “people who may be similar to” his supporters, according to the Political Ad Collector data. Under the new system, people who don’t support Trudeau could see the ad on his Facebook page, but wouldn’t know why it was excluded from their news feeds.

Facebook has promised new measures to make political ads more accessible. When it expands the initiative to the U.S., it will start building a searchable electronic archive of ads related to U.S. federal elections. This archive will include details on the amount of money spent and demographic information about the people the ads reached. Facebook will initially limit its definition of political ads to those that “refer to or discuss a political figure” in a federal election, the company said.

The company hasn’t said what, if any, archive will be created for ads for state and local contests, or for political ads in other countries. It has said it will eventually require political advertisers in other countries, and in state elections in the U.S., to provide more documentation, but it’s not clear when that will happen.


Ads that aren’t political will be available under the same system being tested in Canada now.

Even an archive of the sort Facebook envisions wouldn’t solve the problems of misleading advertising on Facebook, Surman said. “It would be interesting to journalists and researchers trying to track this issue. But it won’t help users make informed choices about what ads they see,” he said. That’s because users need more information alongside the ads they are seeing on their news feeds, not in a separate location, he said.

The Airbnb Citizen ad wasn’t the only tactic that Airbnb adopted in an apparent attempt to sway the Toronto City Council. It also packed the council galleries with supporters on the morning of the vote, according to The Globe and Mail. Still, its efforts appear to have been unsuccessful.

On Dec. 6, two days after a reader sent us the ad, the City Council voted to keep people from renting a space that wasn’t their primary residence and stop homeowners from listing units such as basement apartments.

Filed under: Technology

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1 year ago

Guilty until proven to possess Aaadhar? This is the BJP's flagship Khangress policy implementation;

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