UID's promise of service delivery to poor hides IT, biometrics industry profits -PartVI

In our country, it is rarely noticed as to when the concept of massively organised information quietly emerges to become a means of social control, a weapon of war, and for the victimisation of ethnic groups. Aadhaar is trying hard to make us believe that the UIDAI would fulfil the constitutional promise of economic equality

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking” said George Patton, US General during World War II.
 

Indeed, “unfair share of highly educated people” in certain mega business enterprises, countries and automatic identification technologies based on digitalization of human biology is having a disruptive impact on human civilization and democratic rights.

 

After the adoption of National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP), a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by AK Antony, defence minister, is deliberating on the issue of resident identity cards to all usual residents of the country of age 18 years and above under the scheme of National Population Register (NPR). As per the terms of reference given to the GoM, it is supposed to “examine all aspects relating to the proposal for issuing resident identity cards to the usual residents of the country keeping in view all relevant issues and finalize its recommendations at an early date.” There is no news about what this GoM has done since its creation January 2013. It seems they are waiting for the judgement of the Supreme Court given the fact that Aadhaar/Unique Identification (UID) Number and NPR are one and the same as per the documents on record.

 

The creation of this GoM must be seen along with a letter of Ajit Seth, cabinet secretary, Government of India dated 18 July 2012, which was sent to all secretaries stating that “There is an urgent need to bring rich data assets into the public domain for the use by civil society for scientific, economic and developmental purposes.”
 

In an interview, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks informed Imran Khan about the grave act of omission and commission. Assange said, “…we discovered a cable in 2009 from the Islamabad Embassy. Prime minister Gilani and interior minister Malik went into the (US) embassy and offered to share National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) – and NADRA is the national data and registration agency database. The system is currently connected through passport data but the government of Pakistan is adding voice and facial recognition capability and has installed a pilot biometric system as the Chennai border crossing, where 30,000 to 35,000 people cross each day. This NADRA system is the voting record system for all voters in Pakistan. A front company was set up in the United Kingdom – International Identity Services, which was hired as the consultants for NADRA to squirrel out the NADRA data for all of Pakistan. What do you think about that? Is that a…? It seems to me that that is a theft of some national treasure of Pakistan, the entire Pakistani database registry of its people.” The interview is available here
 

It must be noted that NPR is being prepared by C Chandramouli, census commissioner & registrar general of India, is meant to create resident identity cards is exactly like Pakistan’s version of biometric exercise for citizens’ identity card which was completed by NADRA, ministry of interior, Government of Pakistan and their database has been handed over to US Government.
 

Was NADRA made accountable for this theft of national treasure of Pakistan? Will census commissioner & registrar general of India be made accountable if “rich data assets” are stolen or sold? Has anyone been made accountable till date?
 

In an interview James Manyika, a director in McKinsey’s San Francisco office, and Eric Schmidt, Google executive chairman explored the phenomenon of technological disruption, which is likely to have the greatest impact on economies, business models, and people. This interview was conducted in February 2013.

 

Eric corroborates what has been apprehended all along that “There are now firms and foundations building databases of DNA to use, to move to a model of individual diagnosis of disease, where you literally just press a button, the sequences occur, and it tells you what’s wrong. So the use of analytical tools in a historically analog world is a very big change.”

 

He prophetically states that we are entering into a situation where the computer knows, “Well, we kind of know what you care about.”

 

Eric Schmidt says, “We’re going, in a single lifetime, from a small elite having access to information to essentially everyone in the world having access to all of the world’s information. That has huge implications for privacy, communications, security, the way people behave, the way information is spread, censorship, how governments behave, and so forth.”

 

Eric underlines the existing situation of “a small elite having access to information”. He is making a prophesy that we are amidst a technological era, which is going to create a situation wherein “essentially everyone in the world having access to all of the world’s information.”  This prophesy hides an essential pre-condition to the possible access to “all of the world’s information”. The pre-condition is purchasing capacity.  

 

To reveal the true colours of such sophistry, paraphrasing George Orwell’s contention from his book, Animal Farm, in this context would not be inappropriate. All men did not have access to all the information in the past.  But all men will soon have access to all the information if they can afford it. Essentially, all men are equal in the digital world if they can afford equality. 

 

In the second part of his statement, the Google official is telling the official from McKinsey that when all the people in the world will have all the information then it have “implications for privacy, communications, security, the way people behave, the way information is spread, censorship, how governments behave, and so forth”.

 

Even if one takes this part of his statement on its face value, the core issue is that whenever either “a small elite” has access to information or all the people who can afford to have access to information there are implications for privacy, communications, security, human behaviour, information dissemination, censorship and governments.

 

Eric will have us believe that when the analog world of biology—how genes work, how diseases work is put in a digital framework, calculate for a while, do some machine learning on how things happen, these seemingly disruptive technologies will be able to make one become a better human being and predict what’s going to happen to human beings in terms of health etc.

 

While States and citizens are concerned about their rights and are resisting efforts to turn them into subjects of centralised powers through their opposition to National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the emergence of a regressive convergence economy based on databases and unregulated surveillance, biometric and electoral technologies remains largely unnoticed and unchallenged. Political clout of technology based companies seems to be creating a property based rights regime through financial surveillance making national boundaries redundant. But surprisingly, non Congress governments in states and at the centre are acting like unthinking obedient boys.
 

If one takes cognizance of the claim that “UID system is a civilian application of biometrics”1 and compares it with current practices, one finds that such a claim is quite misplaced. In the report there is reference to a Study commissioned by the US Department of Homeland Security to International Biometrics Group.2 Is it too difficult to comprehend the implications of the “civilian application” of a military tool? 

In our country, it is rarely noticed as to when the concept of massively organized information quietly emerged to become a means of social control, a weapon of war, and for the victimisation of ethnic groups. 
     

It has emerged that it all started rolling in the aftermath of a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers on 4 November 2008 and a meeting of the prime minister's council of the UID Authority on 12 August 2009, wherein it was decided that there was a “need for a legislative framework.” The legislative framework is unlikely to take birth but the citizens have been framed and biometrically profiled awaiting post dated endorsement from the legislatures.
 

The 13th Finance Commission has made a provision for an incentive of Rs100 per person (Rs400-Rs500 per family) to bribe citizens below the poverty line to register for the UID/Aadhaar and recommended a grant of Rs2,989.10 crore to be given to the state governments for the same. The deafening silence of the state governments appears to be influenced by this financial allocation.
 

As per an office memorandum dated 29 September 2009, “The main objective is to improve benefits service delivery, especially to the poor and the marginalized sections of the society. To deliver its mandate, the UID Authority proposes to create a platform to first collect the identity details and then to perform authentication that can be used by several government and private service providers.”3
 

The reference to “private service providers” is inexplicable for the work is meant to be an exercise for public purpose and for the poor and the marginalized. The promise of service delivery to the poor and the marginalised hides how it will enable access to profit for the IT industry and the biometrics industry. Such claims are quite insincere, misleading and factually incorrect. It reminds one of the pledges in the preamble of the Constitution of India; it will have us believe that UID Authority would fulfil the constitutional promise of economic equality. Such objectives are bad sophistry at best.
 

“Biometrics data are national assets and must be preserved in their original quality.”4 It is noteworthy that the cabinet secretary refers to “rich data assets” and government’s committee on Biometrics refers to database of citizens’ biometric data as “national assets.”



1 Biometrics Design Standards For UID Applications, Planning Commission, prepared by: Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Committee on Biometrics, p. 9, Version 1.0, December 2009

2 Study titled “Independent Testing of Iris Recognition Technology, Final Report, May 2005” referred in the report of the Biometrics Design Standards For UID Applications, Planning Commission, prepared by: Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Committee on Biometrics, p. 56, Version 1.0, December 2009

3 Biometrics Design Standards For UID Applications, Planning Commission, prepared by: Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Committee on Biometrics, p. 25, Version 1.0, December 2009

4 Biometrics Design Standards For UID Applications, Planning Commission, prepared by: Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Committee on Biometrics, p. 5, Version 1.0, December 2009
 

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

 

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

 

 

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COMMENTS

Mukesh kamath

5 years ago

Profits are good as long as they are outcome of legitimate goods and services delivered or rendered. That is how you and i get our salary.

History of technologies reveals it is their owners who are true beneficiaries -Part 5

Acting like a modern day ‘Robert Clive’, Nilekani has managed to somehow take the Nawabs of Indian National Congress and his loyalists into confidence. The battle of 2014 elections is likely to decide whether 'Clive and his loyalists' will win once again or not

Before joining Indian National Congress (INC), Mahatma Gandhi had opposed biometric identification—fingerprint based registration of Asians in general and Indians and Chinese in particular. In his book, ‘Satyagraha in South Africa’, he describes Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance of 1906 and the Transvaal Asiatic Registration Act under which finger printing of Asians was attempted as a "Black Act". The Black Act was resisted on the grounds of the safety of Indian and Chinese community of South Africa and to resist an intolerable humiliation. The Act was repealed by the British government after years of struggle.
 

Do political parties in India endorse Mahatma Gandhi’s first Satyagraha in opposition to British Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance of 1906 and Transvaal Asiatic Registration Act of 1907? Under the Act, every male Asian had to register himself and produce on demand a thumb-printed certificate of identity. Unregistered persons and prohibited immigrants were to be deported without a right of appeal or fined on the spot if they fail to comply with Act.
 


If the parties endorse this political struggle of the Mahatma then how is it that they are complicit in endorsement of the notification of Planning Commission akin to an ordinance meant for biometric identification? There is a logical compulsion for them to seek the withdrawal of this notification dated 28 January 2009 and to oppose even the introduction of The National Identification Authority of India Bill re-approved by the Union Cabinet on 8 October 2013 in the upcoming winter session of the Parliament in the light of the wisdom gained from the freedom fighters.
 

On 22 August 1906, the South African government published a draft Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance. The Ordinance required all Indians and Chinese in the Transvaal region of South Africa, to register their presence giving their fingerprints and carrying passes. 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.
 

By this yardstick, no political party In India qualifies to be deemed an opposition party unless they burn, boycott or bury the scheme that issues biometric identification slips carrying unique identification (UID)/Aadhaar number.
 

It appears that the Chinese have remembered their historical lessons not only from their subjugation through opium wars but also how as community of shared fate they had opposed finger printing together with Indians in South Africa. Dr M Vijayanunni, former Census Commissioner and Registrar General of India underlined other reasons for China giving up a similar exercise on Rajya Sabha TV on 2 February 2013. Indians, on the other hand, appear to be forgetting lessons of their consistent defeats (in the battle fields and off the battle fields).
 

Among the defeats, the date of 23 June 1757 stands out. In his book, Imagining India, Nandan Nilekani provides ‘A Time Line of Key Events’ in India. Under the title ‘Seeds’, the first date he mentions is 1757. He describes the event of the year saying, “The Battle of Plassey, where (colonel) Robert Clive, commander of the (English) East India Company’s army and renegade (he would later be tried in Britain fort looting Bengal treasury) overthrows the Nawab of Bengal (Siraj-ud-daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal). It is a battle won through both money—bribing the Nawab’s loyalists—and the military.”

 

It seems that acting like a modern day Clive, he has managed to somehow take the Nawab of INC and his loyalists into confidence. The battle of 2014 elections is likely to decide whether Clive and his loyalists will win once again or not.
 

By 1750, the Indian empire was in a state of collapse as a result of a permission given by Indian emperor Jahangir to an ambassador of English emperor King James for setting up of a base by English East India Company in Surat, Gujarat in 1615. By 1690, this company had factories all along the west and east coasts of India with the main centres at Chennai (erstwhile Madras), Kokata (ersthwhile Calcutta) and Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay). The company started to protect its trade with its own armies and navies.
 

History repeats itself in simple ways. Capt Raghu Raman, the chief executive officer (CEO) of National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had proposed creation of private territorial armies by commercial czars in his earlier incarnation with Mahindra Special Services Group. But the State seems to have gone ahead and has started providing Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the world’s biggest industrial security force, to commercial czars on rent. At this rate how long will it take for the commercial czars to hire Indian Army, Navy and Air Force? In any case, they are hiring them post retirement or poaching them in their pre-retirement phase itself. Unless the political and the informed citizenry is alive to the writing the writing on the wall its ramifications are bound to unfold and make their democratic rights redundant.
 

In an interview on 24 January 2012, NDTV's Sreenivasan Jain asked Nilekani about the patronage his biometric identification project enjoys from Rahul Gandhi. He asked, “And it helps to have Rahul Gandhi's backing?” Nilekani replied, “Yes definitely it helps, and we think the promise of this is being seen; that this can transform services to the people.”
 

Nilekani said, “Of course they are uncharted waters. The world's largest biometric database is of 120 million. We are talking about 1.2 billion. So that's 10 times anything else in the world. We are the only project that's doing on that scale using fusion biometrics, because we combine iris and fingerprints.
 

It is the Indian citizens who are the master of the elected people that are being taken into “uncharted waters” by an unelected person. Unlike our indirectly elected prime minister, this person is not even indirectly elected.   
 

Sreenivasan Jain asked, “But overall you feel that this project still has legs?” Nilekani replied, “Of course it has legs. 170 million have voted with their feet.” Indeed UID-Aadhaar and related schemes are meant to engineer the electoral system for good.
 

But this boastful claim was made before the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP). The election to the UP legislative assembly was held in seven phases from 8th February to 3 March  2012. Through their verdict the electorate of Uttar Pradesh rejected the proposal of the INC to allow themselves to be identified with their biometric data like iris scan and thumb impressions. Rahul Gandhi had campaigned in UP using the UID/Aadhaar as an election agenda. After his party’s dismal performance, he took the responsibility of his party’s defeat.
 

The UP legislative assembly has 403 seats. Samajwadi Party (SP) won 224 seats and INC won 28 seats. Eight of the 10 assembly seats in the parliamentary constituencies represented by Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi, respectively, were won by the Samajwadi Party. Nilekani’s party did not just lose 17 of the 20 segments in these four parliamentary seats which it holds, it did not even come second in 13 of these assembly segments.
 

Supporting Home Ministry’s and Planning Commission’s scheme of unique identity, the INC had showcased UID/Aadhaar and related National Population Register (NPR) to influence the electorate but voters have given their verdict against these schemes. Nilekani’s party had claimed that the UID-Aadhaar/NPR will address the discrepancies in controversial below poverty line (BPL) list by hiding violation of the provisions of Census Act with ulterior motives. It was used like a fish bait to entrap citizens against democratic and legislative mandate. The message for Rahul Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Nilekani was that UP electorate who were promised UID-Aadhaar/NPR has rejected it.
 

The surveillance regime based on UID-Aadhaar/NPR has been proposed by INC for the people but not for biometric and other intrusive technologies. It has reliably been learnt that officials from Infosys Ltd have been giving leadership training to leaders of INC. This may have impacted decision making with regard to UID-Aadhaar/NPR but it has clearly not worked in UP elections.
 

Reports of efforts to put even finance minister and defence minister under surveillance reveal that there is paucity of capacity to monitor or regulate these technologies within the government. If this is the plight of the ministers and technologically challenged political class, the threat for citizens can easily be understood.
 

Post UP elections, government must review its capacity to regulate an emerging technology regime that is undermining democracy and sovereignty and should not be misled by unelected cabinet ranked officials who say, “Technology has no history and no bias, it treats everyone the same way.” History of technologies reveals that it is their owners who are true beneficiaries especially when it is used for social control. There is a compelling need to urgently assess the claims and risks of biometric and surveillance technology and how some companies made UID/NPR politically persuasive for the ruling party and intertwined the systems of technology with crying need for governance.
 

Samajwadi Party won the battle in UP but they are bound to lose the war unless they scrap and disassociate themselves from UID/NPR scheme. Imagine a situation, when one agency is not letting the party play its legitimate role as an opposition party in the national politics, what would be their plight, when they are likely to be blackmailed by several surveillance companies and non-state actors.
 

As an electoral lesson, Rahul Gandhi should have stopped his support for UID/Aadhaar project because the verdict was against it. Is it the case that the biometric databases of Indians have already been sold in the futures market and the powers that be have got their shares in the booty which makes it ‘irreversible’ as is being claimed, despite electoral reverses? How it is that Akhilesh Yadav, Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are busy implementing UID-Aadhaar number scheme?
 

Two advertisements of Union Ministry of Home Affairs dated 24 August 2013 and 14 August 2013 in Hindustan Times and Hindustan, respectively merits attention. It signals a very dangerous trend for democratic rights and sovereignty of citizens. The former deals with biometric collection of usual residents of India for which camps are being organized, the latter dealt with Socio Economic & Caste Census (SECC) 2011 wherein it was announced that unless the usual residents covered under SECC sent a letter in a given format requesting for non-disclosure of the information collected from them within 15 days of the publication of the advertisement, their information would be made public. The latter is in violation of the Census Act, 1948 under which Census of India functions and the former is in violation of the Citizenship Act, 1955. SECC application format also reveals that there is something called family identification number which has been created. It merits examination whether it is legal.
 

According to the manual of instructions for filling up of the National Population Register (NPR) Household Schedule, 2011 prepared by the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner (ORG&CCI), Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the objectives of NPR involves “Collection of personal details of all residents of the country and capture of photograph and finger prints of all residents who are of age 15 years and above in villages/urban areas.” The data collection for preparation of NPR was undertaken along with the house listing operations of Census 2011. The manual categorically states that “NPR will contain the details of all the ‘usual residents’ of the country regardless of whether they are citizens or non-citizens.” If that is the case, how can it qualify to be an act under the Citizenship Act and Rules given the fact that the register will have both citizens and non-citizens?
 

As per the manual, NPR’s utility lies in creation of “a comprehensive identity database in the country. This would not only strengthen security of the country but also help in better targeting of the benefits and services under the government schemes/ programmes and improve planning.” It further states, “It may be noted that nationality declared by respondent does not confer any right to Indian citizenship”. In such a case isn’t census itself quite sufficient for it?
 

In fact, Census Commissioner is supposed to gather the data of population under the Census Act, 1948 on the pre-condition that it would be kept secret and it will not be revealed even to the courts.
 

Unlike the data collected under Census Act which is confidential as per Section 15 of the Act, the provisions of the Citizenship Act and the citizenship or nationality rules that provides the basis for creation of the register of citizens do not provide for confidentiality. The fact is that there is no mention of capturing biometrics in the Citizenship Act or Citizenship Rules. It is clear that the collection of biometrics is not a statutory requirement. This is not permissible under also Collection of Statistics Act. But both Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India (ORG&CCI), which are creating the NPR are collecting biometric data as well. It is not a question of duplication alone; it is a question of treating citizens worse than prisoners.
 

Providing for a dignified treatment of the citizens of India, section 15 of the Census Act establishes that “Records of census are not open to inspection or admissible in evidence”. It reads: “No person shall have a right to inspect any book, register or record made by a census-officer in the discharge of his duty as such, or any schedule delivered under section 10 and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, no entry in any such book, register, record or schedule shall be admissible as evidence in any civil proceeding whatsoever or in any criminal proceeding other than a prosecution under this Act or any other law for any act or omission which constitutes an offence under this Act.”
 

Union Home Ministry and UIDAI are undermining the dignity of the citizens by according them a status inferior to that of prisoners.
 

As per ORG&CCI, NPR process include collection of details including biometrics such as photograph, ten fingerprints and iris information for all persons aged 15 years and above. This is be done by arranging camps at every village and at the ward level in every town. Each household is required to bring the acknowledgement slip to such camps. In the next step, data is printed out and displayed at prominent places within the village and ward for the public to see. After authentication, the lists are sent to the UIDAI for de-duplication and issue of UID Numbers. The cleaned database along with the UID Number will then be sent back to the ORG&CCI and form the NPR.
 

It is evident that ORG&CCI has amalgamated its two independent mandates using two forms for each household in India. The first form relates to the house listing and housing census that has 35 questions relating to building material, use of houses, drinking water, availability and type of latrines, electricity, possession of assets etc. The second form relates to the NPR that has 14 questions including name of the person, gender, date of birth, place of birth, marital status, name of father, name of mother, name of spouse, present address, duration of stay at present address, permanent address, occupation, nationality as declared, educational qualification and relationship to head of family. There are 10 columns in the Aadaar/ UID enrolment form.
 

ORG&CCI admits that “all information collected under the Census is confidential and will not be shared with any agency—government or private.” But it reveals that “certain information collected under the NPR will be published in the local areas for public scrutiny and invitation of objections. This is in the nature of the electoral roll or the telephone directory. After the NPR has been finalised, the database will be used only within the government.” While dual work of census and NPR has blurred the line between confidential and non-confidential, UIDAI has gone ahead to seek consent for “sharing information provided…to the UIDAI with agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services” as per column 9 of the UID/Aadhaar enrolment form.
 

The way census bodies are linking biometric information with identification of citizens it is apparent that a permanent emergency-like architecture is unfolding. The electoral database is also sought to be converged. The idea is to make citizens transparent before the all mighty government so that government, their servant can remain opaque to safeguard the interests of undemocratic and ungovernable social control technology companies.
 

In such a backdrop, the key questions facing Indians of all ilks are:
 

What would Government of India and Parliament of India do when cyber and biometric invasion into the privacy of Indians happens by foreign entities?
 

What will citizens, legislators and political parties do when they have sufficient evidence to infer that Government of India is colluding with cyber and biometric invasion into the privacy of Indians happens by foreign entities?
 

Did the citizens’ database that was handed over by Hosni Mubarak regime to the Government of USA prior to its fall facilitate the overthrow of Morsi regime in the recent coup by the military in Egypt and the repression of Egyptians there after?
 

UP verdict of March 2013 is a mandate against assault on democratic rights and diluting federal structure of the country. It is against turning India into a market democracy where executive and legislative decisions are driven by profit mongers not by public interest. Will the verdict of 2014 general elections be any different?
 

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

 

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

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COMMENTS

Ravi S

5 years ago

Aadhaar registration collects biometric data and bare minimum information (proof of identity, age, and residence) through enrollment form. Peruse the Enrollment-Form with data fields on page-1 and instructions on page-2. No profiling information is collected, like religion, caste, income, property-holding, education etc.

Privacy issues and risks equally apply to information and data (with or without biometrics) provided by people to census office, tax office, passport office, driving license, vehicle registration, land and building registration, registration of birth, marriage and death, employers (current, past and prospective), banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, telephone service provider, television service provider, internet service provider, internet services (email, video, social media, search engine, chat, voice, file-storage and transfer etc.), registration at school/college, marriage bureaus, post-office and courier services, hospital registration and medical records, visa of US and UK etc.

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 5 years ago

Well...well...well!
Looks like the PR of UIDAI ( or pvt contractor, who may have suffered from such articles) is on a big HIT job today.

Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don't hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporate !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

Ravi S

5 years ago

In India, government departments, public and private sectors have been using biometrics (fingerprints and face photo) for years, decades and centuries in some or all offices. Examples of fingerprints usage are: Land and building registration (since British era), Defense departments (10 fingerprints, face photo, color of eyes, blood group, height, weight are recorded as mandatory condition for joining service as a civilian or as service personnel since British era to the modern day; it is also for access and attendance nowadays), Planning Commission of India (for access and attendance), census office (for compulsory NPR), Passport, RTO (for driving license), insurance companies, IT, BPO and healthcare companies (for access and attendance), visa of US and UK etc. Aadhaar does not violate any privacy or fundamental right.

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 5 years ago

Well...well...well!
Looks like the PR of UIDAI ( or pvt contractor, who may have suffered from such articles) is on a big HIT job today.

Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don't hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporate !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

Ravi S

5 years ago

Privacy or subversion?
Some privacy champions raise the privacy issue which is irrelevant in a poor country like India where about 750 million people starve for 2-square meal, where illiteracy is high, where religion & caste-based-bias continues, rampant corruption & exploitation exists. They forget that India has a law called Information Technology Act 2000. It has been in existence since year 2000 that protects Aadhaar information along with other laws.

Aadhaar registration collects biometric data and bare minimum information (proof of identity, age, and residence) through enrollment form. Peruse the Enrollment-Form with data fields on page-1 and instructions on page-2. No profiling information is collected, like religion, caste, income, property-holding, education etc.

Privacy issues and risks equally apply to information and data (with or without biometrics) provided by people to census office, tax office, passport office, driving license, vehicle registration, land and building registration, registration of birth, marriage and death, employers (current, past and prospective), banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, telephone service provider, television service provider, internet service provider, internet services (email, video, social media, search engine, chat, voice, file-storage and transfer etc.), registration at school/college, marriage bureaus, post-office and courier services, hospital registration and medical records, visa of US and UK etc.

In India, government departments, public and private sectors have been using biometrics (fingerprints and face photo) for years, decades and centuries in some or all offices. Examples of fingerprints usage are: Land and building registration (since British era), Defense departments (10 fingerprints, face photo, color of eyes, blood group, height, weight are recorded as mandatory condition for joining service as a civilian or as service personnel since British era to the modern day; it is also for access and attendance nowadays), Planning Commission of India (for access and attendance), census office (for compulsory NPR), Passport, RTO (for driving license), insurance companies, IT, BPO and healthcare companies (for access and attendance), visa of US and UK etc. Aadhaar does not violate any privacy or fundamental right.

India has seen anti-modernization protests in the past too. Some people caused bandh & hartals in protest against modernization and computerization of Banking & Rail-ticket 25 years ago. Today people are very happy to enjoy bank ATM and to book rail-ticket from anywhere. Then they had argued that paper records were better than computers. Now those protesters never want to reveal that they ever protested against computerization.
Ironically, there is no opposition to collection of biometric data at other points of services. People stand in long queues to imprint biometrics for obtaining Indian passport, US, UK visa. The attendance & access of most of the IT & ITeS companies are biometric based. The attendance & access of the Planning Commission of India is also biometric based. People have been imprinting all ten-fingers plus details of eyes and other identification marks on body on the first day of joining employment in Defense department of India (civilian as well as service personnel) since British rule of India. Yet one never opposed all that.
The use of electronic devices provides no privacy; such as mobile phone, internet (particularly social network media), email, television, bank card, traffic camera. At any moment the government and the service provider knows of geographical location of people, of conversation on phone, with whom, what we are reading, writing or watching on internet, and what TV channel we are watching, when and for how long. All this is done under electronic surveillance thru device identifiers like IMEI, IP address, GPS etc.

Embassies have switched over to mechanical type-writers in 2013 after CIA worker Snowden’s disclosures. Government also knows our movements thru the traffic cameras on roads, our vehicle number plate, our face etc.
Despite this knowledge, the privacy champions do not want to stop using mobile phones, internet, TV etc. Their sole objective is subversion of Aadhaar, nothing else, and they will not succeed because Aadhaar has already crossed the critical-mass on 15-Aug-2013 by enrolling about 450 million people, assigning 400 million Numbers and linking 30 million bank accounts for Direct Benefit Transfer across many states. And as of November-2013, 500 million Aadhaar have been assigned.

Opponents of Aadhaar believe that snooping / surveillance cannot be done without Aadhaar. Then how Narendra Modi (CM of Gujarat) did the extensive snooping (every minute) of a girl not only on land but also in airplane in year-2009 i.e. before existence of Aadhaar? Intention of the powerful matters a lot!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/17/opinio...
http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/s...
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-electron...
http://www.ico.org.uk/for_organisations/...

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 5 years ago

Well...well...well!
Looks like the PR of UIDAI ( or pvt contractor, who may have suffered from such articles) is on a big HIT job today.

Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don't hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporate !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

Korath

5 years ago

Wonder why this article has made "targeting Aadhaar" the single point agenda. Biometrics has been use in ICT systems for more than a decade. The license , passport , Visa, RSBY cards, attendance systems etc, all use biometrics. Why has Aadhaar been singled out for biometrics use? The reason is easy to guess. For first time every Indian is going to get an identity which cannot be impersonated. The poor are getting empowered and no one will be able steal their identity or related benefits. Its time for the silent majority to stand up and voice their support for Aadhaar.

Mayuresh

5 years ago

How awry the articles can get when a magazine makes a single point agenda to malign someone or something.

Gandhiji's example is quoted childishly out of context and is simply laughable.

By now moneylife's vendetta is quite well understood.

Somewhere from one of your responses, I tend to think, you are doing this because Mr Nilekani refused to give you an interview.

I used to try and make a reasonable argument about your articles. But I don't find a need anymore.

Your articles are now becoming a source of rich entertainment. So enjoying them.

A free fall of journalism, now hitting ground zero...

REPLY

MDT

In Reply to Mayuresh 5 years ago

Dear Sir,
Thanks for your comment.
From your all comments, it looks like these articles are hurting your professional interest.
Being associated with Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) we expected you to come out with better and reasonable comments and not bitter comments. We always welcome sound arguments from readers, however in your case, instead of sharing your knowledge about computers and machinery, you are accusing Moneylife for everything that may be wrong with the Aadhaar project. But obviously there looks like an agenda in all your comments.

Regards,
MDT

Mayuresh

In Reply to MDT 5 years ago

I noted already. I tried making a reasonable argument in last few articles. (You are free to pull out my first response which begins with "it is shocking" - showing a good amount of agreement with you.)

I also noted that quoting Gandhiji's agitation out of context is simply laughable.

I have several times appealed to you to focus constructively on the real issue rather than maligning the whole scheme.

Now after all this your one sided articles continue with arguments getting more and more awry.

Hence I have a reasonable basis to call it vendetta.

Now given the above chronology, you have no reasonable basis to say it is hurting my professional interest or whatever. But I am not surprised given your falling standard of journalism.

Besides you have done an unprofessional act of writing to my mailbox directly and I won't fall as low as you by quoting the contents of that mail publicly. I can only say that contents of your direct email makes your image fall even further.

You have done second unprofessional act of making my professional affiliations public, which you understand only because you have access to my email Id. This was otherwise not public.

After this do you think you people have any moral right left to talk about "data security"?

I am stopping writing anything further on Aadhar. Hope good senses prevail on you.

Shivram Ramakrishnan

5 years ago

The more I read moneylife articles on Aadhaar, the more I am becoming convinced that Aadhaar is not that bad afterall!! The arguments provided against Aadhaar appear to be very weak.

TIHARwale

5 years ago

i received Aadhaar card based on NPR i want a concrete example how you will misuse the information provided by me at time of enrollment. it is people like you are creating unnecessary confusion just because you are Indira Gandhi family haters by vocation like P.N.Lekhi, George Fernandes, now NaMo.

Public Interest   Exclusive
Aadhaar de-duplication myth busted. Any answers, Mr Nilekani?

One person from Kerala enrolled and successfully received two Aadhaar numbers. This raises serious question over the de-duplication theory and practices of UIDAI
 

Aadhaar or the unique identification (UID) number is being enforced by the governments and the de-facto tagging institution, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) by claiming uniqueness of the number. However, one person from Kerala has busted the myth created by UIDAI and its chairman Nandan Nilekani.

 

According to a report in Matrubhoomi, a Kerala-based newspaper, PV Narayanan, a resident of Panatthadi panchayat received two Aadhaar numbers: 548780623023 and 356459270677. The names on both these letters issued by UIDAI are same, with slight different photos. Narayanan probably may have registered at two places or centres. But, surprisingly, his fingerprints seem to have passed the so-called ‘robust’ de-duplication test of UIDAI. Since Aadhaar includes an iris scan, this too seems to have been missed.

 

As Moneylife has pointed out, both the union government and UIDAI were in such a hurry that they neglected the basic principle of pilot testing and size of sample. For over 1.2 billion UID numbers, they have used data from just 20,000 people, in pairs, as the sample and on the basis of the results, gone ahead with the UID number through the 'Aadhaar' project. (How UIDAI goofed up pilot test results to press forward with UID scheme)

 

The case of Narayanan also mocks the false positive identification rate (FIPR) theory of UIDAI. Earlier, speaking about the FIPR, the UIDAI had said, "We will look at the point where the FPIR (i.e. the possibility that a person is mistaken to be a different person) is 0.0025%". This means, for every 1 lakh comparisons, there would be two and a half false positives. On a large scale, it means for a population of over 120 crore, there would be 18 lakh crore false positives, or, for every single Indian resident there would be 15,000 false positives! (Click to see the calculations)

 

The International Biometric Group (IBG) testing also shows that performance can vary drastically within technologies-some fingerprint solutions, for example, had next to no errors during testing, while others rejected nearly 1/3rd of enrolled users. "Most interestingly, the testing shows that over time, many biometric systems are prone to incorrectly rejecting a substantial percentage of users. Verifying a user immediately after enrolment is not highly challenging to biometric systems. However, after six weeks, testing shows that some systems' error rates increase ten-fold," said the research, consulting and integration firm, which works closely with the biometric industry. The report is titled "Real-World Performance Testing".

 

Maybe the UIDAI and its registrar have thought the second enrolment of Narayanan from Kerala as false positive and issued another Aadhaar number. Hope the UIDAI chairman would be able to find out ‘original and true’ Narayayan from these two biometric-based Aadhaar numbers!

 

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COMMENTS

Karthik

2 years ago

Lol ! Wondering how that person can get two Ids? As I was pretty sure that this was mostly happening in aadhar apna csc service centers. Which was launched with the integration of API. Csc's are responsible to provide the G2C and B2C services. But, most of the people who owns a CSC are creating a fake Id cards.
Thereby, any one can get the two aadhar cards, even more than three+! What a irony!

gulshan chhabra

2 years ago

my biometric has failed & I cannot have a sim card, I am a doctor. What should I do now?

Krishnamurty Venkatramani

2 years ago

This is a very serious lapse gov must answer

Devika

5 years ago

Aadhar card is a sad joke. Tomorrow, they will match your fingerprints and iris scan with any terrorist and do an Ishrat Jahan on you. You can call me a conspiracy theorist, but there's ample proof now, that Aadhar is duplicable. Maybe the government uses the database of fake Aadhars to launder or embezzle money. If hundreds of Kalavatis can be Sahara investors, then why not hundreds of me or you? Will the real one please raise his or her hand?

Avinash Murkute

5 years ago

My family members enrolled AADHAR two years back. One member has not received the original Card although it was generated and could be downloaded online. Email sent to AADHAR was not replied and probably not read. Where is the accountability?

Vaibhav Dhoka

5 years ago

My wife and daughter got Aadhar registration two and half months back with no update from concerned agency.If one again goes for re-registration will it not be duplication?Inform

Ramani Venkatraman

5 years ago

Recently, after obtaining Aadhaar number and taking the print-out of their electronic output, I approached my bank (a leading private bank) where I was told to come back with the original card issued by Aadhaar authorities. I do not know honestly whether I would get it from them nor is there any communication to that effect and even if so, when. So, if the numbers cannot be linked and the original is needed, it means the very beginning goes to the age-old concepts.. so, in my opinion it is a total failure!!! I think PAN card is far better an identification.

uttamkumar dubey

5 years ago

Hi moneylife, pls rewrite this article with due verification.The comments creates a confusion on the Moneylife's stand towards UID.

We want an unbiased and authentic view.

thnks

Krishnaswami CVR

5 years ago

you were relentless against the AAdhar concept and have in one of the articles indicated that the scheme was put in fast track mode to satisfy some technical companies from us. Once again this adds to your arrows.

Sanjeev B

5 years ago

The key issues here are
1. Trust and 2. Control
1. I don't trust the government with my details.
2. I have no control over how my personal is going to be used.
These are powerful enough reasons for me to stay away from Aadhar as long as legally possible.
But this is not true for everyone: if I were someone for whom a gas cylinder subsidy is more valuable than my personal identity (and unfortunately it very likely is for millions of us Indians), I would enroll as soon as possible.

sohan modak

5 years ago

Forget it. Nilekani will not answer. He is the holi cow!

REPLY

uttamkumar dubey

In Reply to sohan modak 5 years ago

Nation wants to know, when the search for our identity will be over.Or in other words, how long we will live with Identity crisis?
will it end at Voters Id,LPG ID,Passport,PAN, KYC, UID or sm other ID which will be slapped on our face every year? Will there be a common consensus between all govt functionaries SEBI,RBI, state govt, national govt,Election commission to make use of one Identity? Or every passing govt will have a new ID to assign to the taxpayers?

Korath

5 years ago

Aadhaar is purely harmless and optional. It has only benefits and does not harm anyone except somebody who is trying to impersonate or cheat. critics of Aadhaar can mostly be classified into two... Ignorant or ?

sivasankaran

5 years ago

CAN ANY BODY EXPLAIN WHAT ARE THE PERILS OF BIOMETRIC IF STOLEN OR COMPROMISED?WHETHER THE EARTH WILL VANISH IN A DAY?

uttamkumar dubey

5 years ago

Can we have a conclusive and refined version of this subject.

Most of us i believe would have missed the track as there is no check n balances :) on the reply part of it.

rgds,
uttam

Mandar Kulkarni

5 years ago

This scandalous project called Aadhaar is likely to get scrapped soon. Lot of money is wasted so far; should not waste any more.

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