Aadhaar

The UIDAI has taken two successive governments in India and the entire world for a ride. It identifies nothing. It is not unique. The entire UID data has never been verified and audited. The UID cannot be used for governance, financial databases or anything. It’s use is the biggest threat to national security since independence. – Anupam Saraph 2018

When I opposed Aadhaar in 2010 , I was called a BJP stooge. In 2016 I am still opposing Aadhaar for the same reasons and I am told I am a Congress die hard. No one wants to see why I oppose Aadhaar as it is too difficult. Plus Aadhaar is FREE so why not get one ? Ram Krishnaswamy

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.-Mahatma Gandhi

In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.Mahatma Gandhi

“The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21. The right to privacy is not a guaranteed under the constitution, because privacy is not a fundamental right.” Article 21 of the Indian constitution refers to the right to life and liberty -Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi

“There is merit in the complaints. You are unwittingly allowing snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation. The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.”-A three judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said in an interim order.

Legal scholarUsha Ramanathandescribes UID as an inverse of sunshine laws like the Right to Information. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizen, the UID does the inverse: it makes the citizen transparent to the state, she says.

Good idea gone bad
I have written earlier that UID/Aadhaar was a poorly designed, unreliable and expensive solution to the really good idea of providing national identification for over a billion Indians. My petition contends that UID in its current form violates the right to privacy of a citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is because sensitive biometric and demographic information of citizens are with enrolment agencies, registrars and sub-registrars who have no legal liability for any misuse of this data. This petition has opened up the larger discussion on privacy rights for Indians. The current Article 21 interpretation by the Supreme Court was done decades ago, before the advent of internet and today’s technology and all the new privacy challenges that have arisen as a consequence.Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha

“What is Aadhaar? There is enormous confusion. That Aadhaar will identify people who are entitled for subsidy. No. Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t,” Jairam Ramesh

But Aadhaar has been mythologised during the previous government by its creators into some technology super force that will transform governance in a miraculous manner. I even read an article recently that compared Aadhaar to some revolution and quoted a 1930s historian, Will Durant.Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

“I know you will say that it is not mandatory. But, it is compulsorily mandatorily voluntary,” Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Saba April 2017.

August 24, 2017: The nine-judge Constitution Bench rules that right to privacy is “intrinsic to life and liberty”and is inherently protected under the various fundamental freedoms enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the World; indeed it's the only thing that ever has"

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” -Edward Snowden

In the Supreme Court, Meenakshi Arora, one of the senior counsel in the case, compared it to living under a general, perpetual, nation-wide criminal warrant.

Had never thought of it that way, but living in the Aadhaar universe is like living in a prison. All of us are treated like criminals with barely any rights or recourse and gatekeepers have absolute power on you and your life.

Announcing the launch of the#BreakAadhaarChainscampaign, culminating with events in multiple cities on 12th Jan. This is the last opportunity to make your voice heard before the Supreme Court hearings start on 17th Jan 2018. In collaboration with @no2uidand@rozi_roti.

UIDAI's security seems to be founded on four time tested pillars of security idiocy

1) Denial

2) Issue fiats and point finger

3) Shoot messenger

4) Bury head in sand.

God Save India

Sunday, February 25, 2018

12879 - Measure your life - Greater Kashmir

That is what Biometric is all about.

Moonis Ali 
Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 21 2018 11:01PM | Updated Date: Feb 21 2018 11:01PM

Biometric is a combination of two greek words bio meaning ‘life’ and metric meaning ‘to measure’. The very synthesis of the word itself speaks volumes about the potential scope of the revolutionising advancements it has and can bring in human lives along with the associated vulnerabilities and dangers that are attributed to it.

A widely accepted definition of Biometric is, the measurement and statistical analysis of people’s unique physical and behavioral characteristics. This is mainly employed by technologies for identification and access control, or for identifying individuals who are under surveillance. The basic premise of biometric authentication is that every person can be accurately identified by her or his intrinsic physical or behavioral traits.

Physical: facial-recognition, fingerprints, finger geometry (the size and position of fingers), iris recognition, vein recognition, retina scanning, voice recognition and DNA matching.

Behavioral: the unique ways in which individuals behave/act, includes recognition of typing patterns, walking gait and other gestures.

This article endeavors to build a case as to ‘Why we need a strong and an effective data protection law which safeguards an individual's biometric data’.

Why is technology driven by biometrics so booming ?
Reasons that have led to the acceptance of this technology primarily focus on the aspects of security (owing to the belief that it is unique and cannot be spoofed or duplicated) and greater efficiency of the system. Although these factors are often driven by governmental policies, corporate interests and an overall change in the moods of the common population (especially, young populations that seem to be ever more welcoming of new technologies).

Also, the rationale devolved by governments about the use of Biometric (BM) systems can range anywhere from being enablers for transparent and effective public delivery mechanisms, building huge surveillance & security grids to weeding out ghost entries in compromised socio-economic databases, depending upon the individual requirement of the countries. 

But If there is one other factor, that has promoted the rise of BM in personal spaces of individuals it is: convenience.

The ‘convenience’ that has brought about ideas like ‘why should I have to remember pins or passwords now?’ , let me just unlock my device/house/car with my fingerprint; has single-handedly steered the expansion of Bm based systems in consumer electronics and retail shopping sectors.

The rise of BM has triggered almost an arms race in the electronics and mobile phone industry, even a low/mid-range smartphone manufacturer cannot afford to unveil a phone without a tacky fingerprint sensor at the back. (though, I’d prefer the ones which have one at the front).

‘’ It is in the back drop of these widespread applications of biometrics that many organisations, activists, tech. enthusiasts have felt obligated to raise questions about the vulnerabilities and dangers that may stem from it. ‘’

Is my ‘Aadhaar’ safe?
At a time when the Government of India is making authentication through Aadhaar mandatory for an increasingly large number of services, and Aadhaar being integrated by private companies for everything from signing for SIM cards to being printed on Jet Airways boarding passes, the need for meaningful user privacy protections has never been greater keeping in view the recent incident where a citizen was able to buy all of the demographic data inside the Aadhaar database for a sum of Rs. 500.

In a scenario like and amid a national debate over the Aadhaar (national biometric identity database) the Supreme Court of India ruled unequivocally that privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. It is now incumbent upon the government to enact a law protecting this right, even as litigation around Aadhaar continues. 

The TRAI consultation is one of several parallel processes to help shape a comprehensive data protection law; others include the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Committee of Experts (the Srikrishna Committee). Numerous activists, organisations particularly the Mozilla Corporation (a renowned pioneer for user privacy and data protection) have recently filed comments with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in response to their consultation paper “Privacy, Security, and Ownership of Data in the Telecom Sector.” [1]

The thorough and thoughtful TRAI consultation paper asked several important questions, including: what should be the definition of personal data? How can users be empowered with choice and control? When should consent from users be obtained? What should be the responsibilities of data controllers? What should enforcement look like? What measures should be considered in order to strengthen and preserve the safety and security of telecommunications infrastructure and the digital ecosystem as a whole? And many more.

The ideal biometric data privacy law must ENSURE:
1. Multi-layered security and verifiable practices: Right from sourcing and collection of data, adequate security mechanisms must be incorporated inside the system. Tokens and hashes should be used for authentication instead of the actual numbers, names and addresses. Human corruption (at the database facilities) as the weakest link in the chain must be addressed comprehensively. 

2. That there should be no surprises in the usage of biometric data: Usage and sharing of information should occur in a way that is transparent and benefits the user.

3. Users are always in control: All the services and products put users in control of their data and online experiences. [2]

4. Limited collection of data: Collecting what is needed, de-identifying and deleting when no longer necessary. [2]
Biometric data should be perfunctorily compared with other regular forms of data because of its unique and extraordinary relation to an individuals identity. Any lapse or mishandling with biometric data can have damning consequences not just for the individual but the system as a whole.

REFERENCES:
[1] Mozilla Aadhaar Take Action document.
[2] Data Privacy Privacy Principles by mozilla.org .

(Moonis Ali is Data Science enthusiast and Final year student at Computer Science and Engineering department, Kashmir University, North Campus.)


12878 - Law can be enacted to remove Aadhaar lacunae: Supreme Court - Free Press Journal

— By Agencies | Feb 22, 2018 12:07 am


New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the alleged defect that citizens’ biometric details under the Aadhaar scheme were being collected without any law, could be cured by subsequently bringing a statute.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, however, asked what the position will be with regard to breach, if any, that could have taken place between 2009, when the Aadhaar scheme was launched, and 2016 when the enabling law came into force.

The bench said the Centre came out with the law in 2016 to negate the objection that it was collecting data since 2009 without any authorisation, but the issue which needed consideration was what will happen if the data collected earlier, have been compromised. “Our (Privacy) judgement said that there has to be a law. They enacted a law to take away the basis of the argument. The absence of a law can be cured, but there may be other issues like whether the data collected (earlier) had the same statutory safeguards. What will happen in case of breach,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said.

The bench is hearing a clutch of petitions including one filed by former High Court judge Justice K S Puttaswamy challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme and its enabling 2016 Act.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the former judge, said the law cannot cure defects like invasion of fundamental rights of citizens and invasion of privacy in this case was “complete once you unlawfully collected information. All this cannot be cured.”

On the issue of making Aadhaar mandatory for the poor to avail facilities, he said the State was making a “moral judgment on the poorest of the poor in saying they make ghost cards”.

There are ways to detect and stop pilferages, he said, adding that fake persons can be identified and action taken against them, but “do not treat every person with indignity”.
The advancing of arguments remained inconclusive and would resume on Thursday.

12877 - Aadhaar-for-food can’t be a mandatory requirement - Hindustan Times


Prioritise universal access of food grains since those dying of starvation are mainly the marginalised

OPINION Updated: Feb 22, 2018 07:56 Ist


Swati Narayan 

People queue outside a ration shop in Delhi (File Photo)(Arijit Sen/ HT)

Forty-four-year-old mother, Amir Jahan, epitomised gallantry this Republic Day. There was not a morsel of food at home. So, while the nation celebrated, she quietly borrowed six rotis from a neighbour and distributed them equally among her three daughters, though she hadn’t eaten for four days. That night Amir died of starvation.

In the first month of 2018, there have been four similar deaths across India.

Four years after the enactment of the National Food Security Act, these hunger deaths are nothing short of criminal negligence by duty-bound governments at the Centre and state. 

The food law clearly spells out that three of every four rural homes are entitled to subsidised food grains. Alternatively, state governments are obliged to pay every excluded family compensatory ‘food security allowance’. In fact, most of these poorest of the poor families should have automatically been included in the Antyodaya Anna Yojana. But this has not been the case.

Friday, February 23, 2018

12876 - Constitutional Validity of Aadhaar, Day 12: "to live is to live with dignity" - Medianama

By   ( @Vidyut vidyut@medianama.com )     February 22, 2018   
Share This:            Share via Email   


This is a record of the proceedings in the Supreme Court bench hearings on the Constitutional validity of Aadhaar, which began on Feb 13, 2018. You may read the previous days’ proceedings here: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11.
Senior Advocate Gopal Subramaniam continued with his arguments on behalf of the petitioners.
Mr. Subramanium began by pointing out the constitutional value of human dignity as detailed in the Jeeja Ghosh & Anr vs Union of India & Ors judgment on human dignity and linked it to the Puttaswamy (privacy) judgment by the 9 judge bench. He said that to live is to live with dignity.

Reputation is a part of dignity

Mr. Subramanium referred to the judgment in the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Union of India, Ministry of Law & Ors which talks about the concept of reputation as a natural right – a facet of dignity. He pointed out the connection between fairness and justice which lead to dignity. He emphasised the need for proportionality. He said he could understand if it is a question of an offence of impersonation and there is a procedure followed. But a whole population cannot be subjected to a process assuming the entire population are impersonators. This Indian culture respects the inherent divinity of every person (in response to a question by Chief Justice of India following Mr. Subramanium giving a Sanskrit verse to show justice and dignity are inextricably connected).
Mr. Subramanium asked if the present Act is fair and just. He stated that lack of authentication has led to deprivation which has led to debt. He said that it is an accountable State architecture. The insignia is some kind of probity and rectitude which should be assured. He asked whether this Act is amenable to law. Whether it embodies a culture of accountability. He pointed to how Centre washes its hands when referred to starvation deaths often pointing fingers at state government or the ration officer!
Mr. Subramanium, in response to a question by Justice Chandrachud, said that he’s taking a doctrinal position. He said that he agreed that people should have a political identity. However, there are two expressions- ‘identity’ & ‘identification’ and it is the former which has constitutional relevance.

Difference between identity and identification

Justice Chandrachud asked the difference between identity and identification – whether identification under the Act impairs the right to identity.
Mr. Subramanium responded that minimal, regulatory identification is fine, but identification for availing rights is not. He referred to the nature of our society – the differences, the special vulnerabilities, etc. and how a homogeneous mechanism of identification with no alternatives is per se a violation of dignity. He said that the State has a duty to be citizen-friendly.
Mr. Subramanium, pointing out the problem, said that the Aadhaar Act has an element of objectification. It depersonalises an individual. It eliminates any form of transaction except through the medium of this Act. If a person can exist independent of Aadhaar, and if the Act does not accommodate that possibility, then it must go!
Mr. Subramanium said that unique identity cannot be given by a number. Identity is as natural as the life itself.

European judgments

Mr. Subramanium clarified for Justice Chandrachud’s the question from some weeks earlier on the extent of applicability of the European judgments, because the UDHR and ICCPR have been read as part of domestic law and therefore there is no reason to hold them as not applicable. FRs keep expanding and progressing…this Court cannot hold a retrogression on them.

Dignity and the State

Mr. Subramanium resumed the subject of dignity and how the very act of seeking identification for things such as birth, death or scholarships is a pejorative and attribution of indignity. He said that the State is obliged under Article 13 in the Constitution of India to respect the rights of the individuals.
Mr. Subramanium angrily said the state is making a moral judgment on the poorest of the poor in saying they make ghost cards. He pleaded if there is pilferage, the State should identify them and take action and not treat every person with indignity. He referred to how for all the astronomical leakage figures, nothing is pleaded as to action taken against those responsible!
Mr. Subramanium said that State cannot use this present mechanism to find out the ghost people. State needs to have a better mechanism which makes it accountable and follows due procedure.
Mr. Subramanium asserted that opacity is antagonistic to rationality. The law must be able to rationalize its objectives. Socio-economic rights are complementary to political rights. The latter is not subservient to the former.

“The Aadhaar Act lacks both substantive and procedural reasonableness”, said Mr. Subramanium

Mr. Subramanium continued reading Puttaswamy (Para 224) on reasonableness of laws and again referred to the Aadhaar architecture. “Probababilistic. Uncertain. Absolutely not normative. This can never be rational or a reasonable method of identification.” He said the onus of identification is on the state under our Constitution.
Mr. Subramanium referred to the role of dignity in the theories on self-actualisation by eminent psychologists Abraham Maslow and Viktor Frankl, and how it is part of the understanding of dignity under the Indian Constitution. He recalled the German case on microcensus that argued that the possibility of aggregation per se is a violation of the right of personality – right of self-actualisation.
Mr. Subramanium referred to how governments can come and go and said that we do not know who will inherit this database even if we don’t put any malice to the current government. This law will remain. He urged the judges to keep that in mind.
Mr. Subramanium complimented Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal on his longevity and the longevity of his excellence and how governments may not be able to emulate that. Mr. Venugopal smiled and said it was wholly unnecessary. Chief Justice of India commented on the necessity of getting rid of ego (unclear).

Informational privacy

Justice Chandrachud asks Mr. Subramanium to read para 299 and asked about reasonable expectation of privacy.
Mr. Subramanium proceeded to read the paragraph from Justice Chandrachud from the Puttaswamy judgment on restrictions to the right to privacy which includes legitimate State aim and proportionality – prevention of dissipation of social benefits as a legitimate state purpose. He argued that “Legitimate” by its very definition is bounded and that when the aim is effusive or is unbounded, as is the case with Aadhaar, it has no legitimacy of purpose.

Afternoon Session

Mr. Subramanium read excerpts from the Puttaswamy judgment about informational privacy. He said that the statute itself gives evidence that there is an aggregation of data including the metadata. He referred again to Puttaswamy judgment regarding potentiality of danger because of State and non-State data surveillance. He said in this Act, we need no guesswork – ubiquitous data surveillance is the intent and object of the Act and the regulations.
Justice Chandrachud asked him to read para 309 of the judgment which talks about monitoring web for national security. Mr. Subramanium replied that it is different. It talks about monitoring of web not aggregation. He asked the judges to consider that in case of aggregation of data, if somebody hacks into the database, what will become of the individuals.
Justice Chandrachud pointed to his judgment and paras on Posner writings on privacy being a terrorist’s friend. Mr. Subramanium submitted that it was very different and the situation in Aadhaar has no application. “We are not dealing with terrorists but the entire population.”
Mr. Subramanium referred to contracts with L1 and the exploitation of data by private players such as Digital Lenders association, Ongrid or TrustID – aggregation and profiling data for all sorts of purposes that have no nexus with the stated object of the act.
Mr. Subramanium proceeded to test the Aadhaar Act against Articles 14, 19 and 21 in the Constitution of India. He said that abridgement by law either for purpose of Article 19 or 21 is only law in praesenti (in the present) – it cannot be a retroactive law such as Section 59. He read section 59 and submitted that the expression ‘by law’ means law in present time and not retrospection.
Justice Chandrachud pointed out the problems with giving retrospective validity to the actions. Mr. Subramanium agreed. Mr. Subramanium said that if there’s an invasion of fundamental rights, what is without the authority of law cannot be deemed to have been done under the authority of law.
Justice Chandrachud made a fine distinction: A mere absence of law is curable, but a breach that has already occurred cannot be deemed have not occurred. Mr. Subramanium said there is another point. What lacked authority at the time cannot be retroactively conferred authority.
Mr. Subramanium referred to the Article 73 proviso. He said the entries related to the Aadhaar programme are in concurrent list 20, 23 and 24. Therefore, Mr. Subramanium said, the Union had no authority to operate an executive scheme. He also referred to 243G and Part IX and items under Panchayat.
Justice Chandrachud remarked that identification may possibly relate to Entry 97 – Residuary powers.
Mr. Subramanium now referred to proviso to Article 73(1) of the Constitution. He enlisted the entries in the concurrent list concerning Aadhaar and said that the interface of accountability takes place at the lowest level, state and then the Union level. He said Aadhaar violates the federal nature.
There was further discussion between Justice Chandrachud and Mr. Subramanium on whether a Fundamental Rights invasion can be cured by Section 59 of the Act.
Mr. Subramanium said that to examine section 59, two points will have to be considered: absence of law and invasion of rights. He said that a law cannot subsequently cure the invasion of rights.
Both Justice Sikri and Justice Chandrachud said that a mere absence of law can be cured by a retroactive law without showing a further injury. Mr. Subramanium said invasion in this case was complete once you unlawfully collected information and more – all those cannot be cured. He said that de-facto and de-jure invasion has taken place here. It is complete. And in such a case, a law cannot retrospectively cure such actions.
An interesting exchange transpired between the Bench and Mr. Subramanium on point of law with regard to Section 59. Justice Chandrachud asked in context of section 57 that whether, prior to 2016, the State governments also utilised Aadhaar. Mr. Subramanium told the Court that State governments entered into MoUs to establish State Resident Data Hubs.
Mr. Subramanium asked why the beneficiaries of schemes should beg the State to get their entitlements.
Mr. Subramanium said that heart and soul of this Act is authentication. If authentication fails, consequence is disablement. In such a case, there’s no form of substantive or procedural redressal. He said that this Act doesn’t even provide for retrieval of core biometric information. To compensate it gives provision of update. “But how will an individual come to know that his biometrics need updation,” he asked.
The Bench rose for the day. Hearings to resume on Feb 22, 2018
Summary of hearing based on tweets by Prasanna S and SFLC

12875 - Aadhaar Hearing [Day 12,Session-2]: State Isn’t Justified In Surveilling Entire Citizenry As If They Were All Terrorists: Gopal Subramanium - Live Law


As the Aadhaar hearing resumed post the lunch hour on Wednesday, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium drew the attention of the bench to the portions of the Justice KS Puttaswamy judgment dealing with the concerns of ‘informational privacy’, which “refle...

Read more at: http://www.livelaw.in/aadhaar-hearing-day-12session-2-state-isnt-justified-surveilling-entire-citizenry-terrorists-gopal-subramanium/


Read more at: http://www.livelaw.in/aadhaar-hearing-day-12session-2-state-isnt-justified-surveilling-entire-citizenry-terrorists-gopal-subramanium/

12874 - New law cannot cure pre-Aadhaar Act ‘data breaches’, says Supreme Court - The Hindu


NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 21, 2018 17:25 IST


The judge was referring to the mass collection of personal data from citizens during the pre-Aadhaar Act years from 2009 to 2016.

Mere absence of a law can be cured by subsequently enacting one with a retroactive effect, but this new law cannot cure “breaches” that occurred prior to it, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed orally during a Constitution Bench hearing in the Aadhaar challenge.

The judge, who is a part of the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, was referring to the mass collection of personal data from citizens during the pre-Aadhaar Act years from 2009 to 2016. The Aadhaar law came into existence in 2016.
The judge was responding to submissions made by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, for petitioners, that the subsequent enactment of Aadhaar Act in 2016 cannot cure the “complete invasion of privacy” which occurred in the pre-statute years of the Aadhaar scheme.

“There is no embargo on the government to cure the deficiency of absence of law by enacting a legislation subsequently. A breach because of the absence of law can be cured by enacting a law. But, on the other hand, if there are other breaches on fundamental rights, we have to see whether this curative law (Aadhaar Act) can cure those breaches,” Justice Chandrachud addressed Mr. Subramanium.

He said the abrogation of fundamental rights which occurred during the collection of personal information during the pre-Aadhaar Act years was a “choate act” in itself.

“There was no voluntariness on the part of the citizen in its true sense, all the purposes for the collection and use of the personal information was not conveyed to him, the information was open to be shared among other entities, including private parties. All this made the collection of data unlawful,” Mr. Subramanium argued.

He claimed that the Aadhaar Act itself was “violative of fundamental rights”. “No Act can retroactively protect fundamental right. There cannot be a retroactive assertion of substantial and procedural reasonableness... That is, the Act cannot ratify anything illegal,” Mr. Subramanium submitted.

“The enactment of 2016 cannot cure the breaches that happened prior to it,” Justice Chandrachud observed.

12873 - Dr Goyal exposes vulnerabilities in Aadhaar architecture and ecosystem before the Supreme Court- Part1 - Money Life


Moneylife Digital Team

21 February 2018


Dr Rakesh Mohan Goyal, a computer industry expert, and an occasional writer for Moneylife who has audited authentication centres of Aadhaar had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court. Dr Goyal told the apex court that people at enrolment centres were retaining and storing biometric data and the Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has no way of knowing. 




12872 - Aadhaar, India’s Biometric ID System, Gets Its Day in Court -

https://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/aadhaar-indias-biometric-id-system-gets-its-day-in-court

Aadhaar, India’s Biometric ID System, Gets Its Day in Court

With a billion people registered, India’s Supreme Court weighs in on how these 12-digit IDs can be used

Advertisement
In January, justices of the Supreme Court of India gathered to discuss the country’s national identification system, called Aadhaar. Since 2010, authorities have enrolled 1.19 billion residents, or about 93 percent of India’s population, in the system, which ties fingerprints, iris scans, and photos of Indian citizens to a unique 12-digit number.
Almost a decade later, India is still grappling with the technical, legal, and social challenges of launching the world’s most ambitious government identification program. Aadhaar’s reach and ubiquity has made it a tempting vehicle for centralizing activity, including welfare payments and mobile number registrations. But it has also raised major privacy and security issues.
The Indian government’s original argument for Aadhaar was to replace paper ration cards for food entitlements [see “India’s Big Bet on Identity,” IEEE Spectrum, March 2012]. The old system excluded citizens who could not obtain a card from corrupt local officials, and members of families whose heads of household did not share benefits with them. Individuals, rather than households, now have ­Aadhaar numbers, and obtaining one is free at any enrollment office in the country.
In the years since the program began, banks, mobile operators, and the government itself have started to require Aadhaar authentication to access services, even though India’s Supreme Court has found that the government cannot force citizens to use Aadhaar to obtain entitlements.
The case now before the country’s highest court, which was ongoing at press time, combines almost three dozen petitions arguing that Aadhaar violates aconstitutional right to privacy and interferes with access to entitlements. While some of the petitions challenge the entire Aadhaar Act, others focus on a government requirement to use Aadhaar to verify applicants for new SIM cards or to link Aadhaar to tax IDs.
In practice, an Aadhaar number is like a telephone number: Nobody forces you to have one, but doing anything without one is almost impossible.
As Aadhaar has grown, the program has also proven susceptible to fraud. In January, The (Chandigarh) Tribune reported that village-level Aadhaar enrollment agents were selling access to personal details for as little as US $8. The ability of third parties to compile such data in a central repository may be one of the weaknesses of the Aadhaar system. Days later, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said it would offer facial recognition along with user-generated virtual ID numbers to verify personal identities, so users would not have to reveal their Aadhaar numbers for every transaction.
When things go wrong, Aadhaar holders have limited recourse. “Individuals can’t go to police to complain about compromised data, because only UIDAI can do so” under present law, says economist Reetika Khera, of the Indian Institute of Technology, in New Delhi, who has studied Aadhaar’s social impact.
Many of Aadhaar’s legal and social problems have their roots in incomplete technical regulations, says Jyoti Panday, Asia Policy Fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in New Delhi. “Until there is strict enforcement of the standards for collection, storage, and use of biometric data as established under the Aadhaar Act and Regulations, these problems will keep cropping up in new ways,” Panday says.
The government’s relentless push to expand Aadhaar may be turning influential Indians against the program, says Khera. Now that India’s middle class is being asked to link their ­Aadhaar to sensitive data, they are paying more attention to mishaps. “Because the constituency has changed,” Khera says, “public opinion has changed dramatically.”
This article appears in the March 2018 print magazine as “India’s Biometric IDs Trigger Privacy Lawsuits.”
Advertisement

12871 - Replacing welfare schemes with universal basic income to hit poor the most -


The study by Carnegie India opposed the Economic Survey 2016-17 proposal of delivering UBI through an Aadhaar-linked system

Indivjal Dhasmana  |  New Delhi 
Last Updated at February 21, 2018 07:15 IST

The study opposed the Economic Survey’s proposal of delivering UBI through an Aadhaar-linked system

A research-based study has countered Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian’s prescription on replacing existing social welfare schemes with universal basic income (UBI).

The study by Carnegie India, the centre here of a US-based institution, also opposed the Economic Survey 2016-17 proposal of delivering UBI through an Aadhaar-linked system.

The survey says an “annual transfer of Rs 7,620 ($120) to 75 per cent of India’s population will push all but India’s absolute poorest above the 2011–12 Tendulkar poverty line.”

It said the cost of such a scheme will be 4.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
And, that a budget-neutral transfer could only materialise after existing programmes are withdrawn.

“The Survey is unjustified in presenting India’s largest welfare schemes as candidates for replacement,” said Saksham Khosla, a research analyst with Carnegie India, who authored the study.

In his study, India’s Universal Basic Income: Bedeviled by the Details, he says several such programmes are intended to achieve long-term development goals and cannot be simply substituted by cash transfers.

“In addition, India’s national food distribution and public works programmes, which the survey singles out for their high levels of misallocation and leakage, have improved significantly over the past decade in terms of their coverage and targeting efficiency,” Khosla said.

He also said an exclusive reliance on Aadhaar-linked welfare payments is short-sighted.

“Pilot evaluations of direct benefit transfers (DBT) have found significant room for improvement in last-mile delivery, size of the subsidy, and grievance redressal, even as authentication failures and exclusion errors due to Aadhaar persist,” he pointed out.


Significant progress is still to be made before large-scale Aadhaar-linked transfers can be trusted to reach recipients, he cautioned

12870 - State cannot sit in judgement on identity of citizens, SC told - India Today


February 20, 2018

New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI) The State cannot sit in judgement and rely only on biometric details to establish the identity of its citizens, a former High Court Judge who has challenged the Aadhaar scheme, told the Supreme Court today.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra is hearing a clutch of petitions including one filed by former High Court judge Justice K S Puttaswamy challenging the constitutional validity of the Centres flagship Aadhaar scheme and its enabling 2016 Act.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the former judge, said the State cannot sit in "judgement" and rely on some numbers and biometric details of a person to establish his or her constitutional identity.

"Virtual person cannot reduce the real personhood," the senior lawyer told the bench which also comprised Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.

Terming the Aadhaar Act as "unconstitutional", he said it has been held in several judgements that the individuals rights always gets primacy over the rights of the State and moreover, the action of the government is needed to be tested "for substantive and procedural due process".
The senior lawyer maintained that the government says that Aadhaar scheme was put in place for furthering "social good", but the "remedies are worse than the maladies". The right to equality, right to personal liberty and freedom of speech and expression are being violated by the Aadhaar scheme, he said.
He also referred to the recent nine-judge bench judgement and said the right to privacy has been held to a be fundamental right to which dignity is "central and integral", he said, adding that the dignity of an individual is being infringed by the Aadhaar law.
The fact that there would be a centralised data base will lead to aggregation of details of the citizens and they can be misused, he said.
"Means employed in the statute is because biometrics itself is flawed. And algorithmic behaviour is itself rational and beyond the control of the UIDAI," he said, adding the people would be denied the access to justice by the Aadhaar Act, which is an "overarching theme".
The advancing of arguments remained inconclusive and would resume tomorrow.
Earlier, the court had posed whether the government was not entitled to seek proof of identity from citizens if their entitlement to certain benefits were dependent upon their identities.
"If your entitlement depends on who you are, then can the government not require proof on that count? Is it not a reasonable condition," the bench had asked.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the West Bengal government, had said the proof of identity has to be linked with the status of the person which entitles him or her for the benefit and moreover, the citizens must have the choice to prove their identity.
Prior to this, the court had said that issues like denial of benefits to citizens for either want of Aadhaar or due to its non-authentication may not be a ground for holding the law as "unconstitutional".
The apex court had on December 15 last year extended till March 31 the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes of all ministries and departments of the Centre, states and Union territories. 

PTI SJK ABA RKS ARC -