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Why Ram Sewak Sharma violated Aadhaar Act-Part XI

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, August 02, 2018 | 2:24 AM

In an interview with The Print, Ram Sewak Sharma, Chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) claimed that Aadhaar does not violate privacy. He asked “Tell me what harm can you do to me if you have my Aadhaar details? I will give you my Aadhaar number if you like”.

This question made active Twitter society members to demand asked TRAI Chairman to walk the talk and reveal his Aadhaar number on 28 July. They said if he has so much trust in the 13 feet wall secured aadhaar system. Following this exchange of words over Twitter, Sharma made his 12 digit biometric unique identification (UID) number branded as Aadhaar public on this micro blogging site.

In the early evening of 28 July, Sharma announced that “My Aadhaar number is ***********. Now I give this challenge to you: Show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me!”

By doing so, Sharma committed an illegal and punishable act. Publishing of Aadhaar number is prohibited by Aadhaar Act, 2016. As per Section 29 (4) of the Act, “No Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations.” So far there is no regulation which condones this illegal act of the TRAI Chairman.

Within few hours some cyber security researchers, the ethical hackers accessed his personal details using the Aadhaar number and shared some excerpts on twitter.

In such a backdrop, Sharma wrote an article in Indian Express on 31st July explaining why he gave out his number wherein he has argued that his “purpose in engaging in debate is to prove by my own example that Aadhaar number disclosure cannot cause any harm.” He hoped that his challenge would put an end to the scaremongering so that the people of India can benefit from the technology.

But the facts are contrary to his claims about right to privacy, disclosure of personal sensitive information, digital vulnerabilities and benefits.

In its affidavit before the 9-Judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) submitted that right to privacy is not a fundamental right. The Court debunked its claim in it verdict of 24 August 2017 and ruled that “The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.” It conclusively established that right to privacy is a fundamental right. The Court observed, “The dignity of the individual encompasses the right of the individual to develop to the full extent of his potential. And this development can only be if an individual has autonomy over fundamental personal choices and control over dissemination of personal information which may be infringed through an unauthorized use of such information.” On the question of vulnerability, the court took note of “increased the vulnerability of individuals to having their actions, words, images, and personalities communicated without their consent beyond the protected circle of family and chosen friends.” It is crystal clear that all the claims of TRAI have been demolished by the Court. TRAI and Sharma have failed to revise their position in the light of this verdict.  

On 1 May 2012, Sharma “took the biometric fingerprints of Mr Modi for his identity card and registered him under the project” as per the website of Narendra Modi. (Source:   http://www.narendramodi.in/cm-kicks-off-uid-project-in-gujarat/). It is apparent that, he misled the then Gujarat Chief Minister because it was not mandatory as per the declaration on every Aadhaar enrolment form and there was no legal framework in place. 
CM kicks off UID project in Gujarat

(Photo: R S Sharma behind Gujarat Chief Minister in May 2012 to kick off Unique Identification Number (UID) – Aadhaar project)

Notably, Mr Modi had protested against biometric data collection in aletter to the then Prime Minister. This was after the then Home Minister P Chidambaram had sent a letter to Mr Modi pointing out that creation of biometric National Population Register (which has now been converged with UID/Aadhaar) was a "statutory requirement" under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and "once initialized, has to be necessarily completed". Gujarat had stopped collection of biometric data. It demonstrates that Mr Modi himself had gnawing doubts about biometric data based identification. But Sharma seems to have succeeded in persuading him to part with is biometric data for UID/Aadhaar.  

As chief secretary of Jharkhand, he violated Supreme Court’s orders to make aadhaar mandatory. This has contributed to ongoing starvation deaths in Jharkhand. In all his official capacities he continued to illegitimately and illegally use foreign Gmail accounts of. He did so even during his tenure at UIDAI. He did not learn any lessons from Hilary Clinton’s private email controversy which contributed to her defeat. The use private email server for official communications during her tenure as US Secretary of State rather than official US State Department email accounts maintained on secure federal servers became a huge scam. These official communications included over 100 emails which contained classified information at the time they were sent, as well as 2,093 emails which were not marked classified but were retroactively be ranked as "confidential" by the State Department. Her communications did not have classification markings. In July 2016, FBI announced that its investigation had concluded that Clinton was "extremely careless" in handling her email system. It was a factor in her loss in the 2016 presidential election. Sharma is guilty of a similar offence. His current stance with regard to his own Aadhaar number creates a compelling reason for probe into his gmail and other private email accounts he has been using.    

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)’s Committee on Biometrics revealed that in its sample of 25,000 people, 2-5% did not have biometric records. It is estimated that approximately 5% of any population has unreadable fingerprints, either due to scars or aging or illegible prints. 

(Photo: R S Sharma with N Nilekani)

In the Indian environment, experience has shown that the failure to enroll is as high as 15% due to the prevalence of a huge population dependent on manual labour, revealed Sharma as the director general and mission director, UIDAI in an interview to Frontline. When as many as 15% fail to enroll, how does “Aadhaar in the beneficiary database ensures detection of a large number of duplicates”? Failure in this regard has contributed to starvation deaths in most states. The accountability for these deaths lies with officials like Sharma.  

Sharma has been violating laws with impunity for quite a while. Therefore, he did not desist from violating even the punitive provisions of the Aadhaar Act. If law does take not its own course to charge him of this offence, it will once again demonstrate that Aadhaar Act is a black law because it is apparent that its implementation is only aimed at causing starvation deaths and civil deaths by coercion.   

Dr Gopal Krishna

The author had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that examined the Aadhaar Bill and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution that examined the Consumer Protection Bill. He is editor of www.toxicswatch.org and is the convener of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties which has been working on UID/Aadhaar issue since 2010.

Why Aadhaar Act must be scrapped? Part- X

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 | 3:01 AM

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

Automatic identification technologies based on digitalization of human biology is having a disruptive impact on human civilization and democratic rights. Can Supreme Court’s application of judicial mind save Indians from them?

A letter of Cabinet Secretary, Government of India dated July 18, 2012 sent to all the Secretaries stated “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 view of the adoption of National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP).

Such “rich data assets” found mention in an interview by Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks who informed Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf about the grave act of omission and commission saying, “we discovered a cable in 2009 from the Islamabad Embassy. Prime Minister Gilani and Interior Minister Malik went into the embassy and offered to share 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, that is the voting record system for all voters in Pakistan, and 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 at http://worldtomorrow.wikileaks.org/episode-10.html. It is noteworthy that UID/Aadhaar is similar to Pakistan’s identity card which has been implemented by National Database Registration Authority (NADRA), Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan and their database has been handed over to US Government. Has NADRA been made accountable for this theft of national treasure of Pakistan? 

There is a lesson for India in it. Will Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) be made accountable if “rich data assets” are stolen or sold? Has anyone been made accountable till date?

In an interview to James Manyika, a director in McKinsey’s San Francisco office, 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 corroborated 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.”

UIDAI's database has been compiling and accessing all the personal sensitive information about residents of India. In such a backdrop, the observation of Eric Schmidt (Chairman of Google from 2001 to 2015 and Alphabet Inc. from 2015 to 2017) assumes huge significance. He said, “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.” UIDAI's database has been designed as an online database from the very outset. 

Eric underlined the existing situation of “a small elite having access to information”. He made 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 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 Eric is telling Manyika 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 behavior, 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 centralized 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 (Unique Identification) 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 victimization of ethnic groups.      

As per the Office Memorandum dated September 29, 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] This finds its echo in Section 57 of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 which reads: "Act not to prevent use of Aadhaar number for other purposes under law", permitting its use by the State or any private body corporate or person.

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 marginalized 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 fulfill the constitutional promise of economic equality. Such objectives are bad sophistry at best. All the residents of India who have been made to share their demographic and biometric data are victims of breach of trust by the beneficial owner of UIDAI. This entity has been causing deep suffering and agony among the residents. It has become a cause of deprivations and death. Its proponents continue to sing its praise because they are paid to do so.     

62 Top Evil Quotes And Sayings 

UIDAI's Committee on Biometrics asserts unequivocally that “Biometrics data are national assets and must be preserved in their original quality.”[4] It is noteworthy that the Cabinet Secretary referred to “rich data assets” and Government’s Committee on Biometrics refers to database of citizens’ biometric data as “national assets.” Despite such awareness such "rich data assets" are admittedly transferred to foreign firms and governments as per contract agreements. The Court alone cannot recognize that citizens’ rights are assets in themselves because their rights give legitimacy to the very existence of the state and the Government under the constitution.

The diminishing influence of democratic legislatures because of the financial might of the transnational technology companies which are donning myriad corporate veils in the face of the inability of the legislators to pierce them is making the law makers subservient to the will of corporate donors of dubious hues. Supreme Court’s 5-Judge Constitution Bench failure in grappling with these questions is likely to result in permanent subjugation of present and future generation of Indians by artificial persons using electronic and biometric memory bank.

[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

51 Reasons: why all freedom loving citizens oppose Aadhaar project and Aadhaar Act-Part IX

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, July 16, 2018 | 3:12 AM

 1.            It has compelled even Supreme Court judges of 9- Judge Constitution Bench and 5-Judge Constitution Bench to enroll for UID/Aadhaar even before they gave verdict on the constitutionality of Aadhaar law and the UID/Adhaar number project. It has disabled judges from granting justice without fear.
2.            It makes citizens powerless by making them transparent by ignoring how Companies Act makes donors of political parties anonymous.
3.            Nothing contained in this Act prevents the use of UID/Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose, whether by the State or any body corporate or person, pursuant to any law, for the time being in force, or any contract to this effect.
4.            It gives birth to biometrc and digital casteism.  
5.            It is transferring “identity information” in respect of an individual, including his/her UID/Aadhaar number, his biometric information and his demographic information to foreign companies like Safran Group, Accenture and Ernst & Young.   
6.            It creates Unlimited Government which is not limited by constitution.
7.            It creates a “giant electronic leash” which reduces Indian residents and citizens to mere numbers and it is branding them like cattle.
8.            It is empowered to omit and deactivate Indian residents and their information.  
9.            It coerces Indian residents to live under a general, perpetual, nation-wide criminal warrant.
10.        It robs citizens and residents of their dignity.
11.        It discriminates against residents and citizens who choose to live without UID/Aadhaar by denying their rights, entitlements and benefits.
12.        It enables criminals to commit crimes that can be attributed to Indian residents and disables them from denying such acts.
13.        It causes civil death because all the rights, benefits and entitlements of Indian citizens has been made subject to UID/Aadhaar working and not being disabled by intention or error.
14.        It provides for proof of identity of residents of India who have resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to one hundred and eighty-two days or more in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment but denies rights, benefits and entitlements of Indian citizens.
15.        It creates dangers of holocaust, genocide and massacres through tracking and profiling akin to misuse of census data in Germany in 1930s with the assistance of Big Data companies.
16.        It is an eternal threat to privacy, civil liberties, federalism, national security, sovereignty, decentralization and constitution.
17.        It allows infiltration of the country, even its defence services, with terrorists and anti-nationals causing a national security threat.
18.        It allows snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation of present and future generation of citizens.
19.        It gives birth to an Orwellian State by facilitating emergence of a Surveillance State based on Database, Global Information Architecture for Convergence, Property based Democracy to advances corporate fascism by ‘commercial czars’ and ‘private territorial armies’.  
20.        It looks at Indian residents as suspects and treats the like criminals. The collection of biometric data is a violation of fundamental rights as it turns citizens and residents into subjects and treats them worse than prisoners.
21.        It denies ‘right to choose’ to Indian residents.
22.        It is against free speech.
23.        It is guided by undemocratic international financial institutions and defence policies of other nuclear weapon holding countries.
24.        It is anti-poor, anti-women, anti-children and anti-citizen as it dismantles existing social service entitlements and is a tool for exclusion.
25.        It promotes outsourcing of governmental functions.
26.        It defines “biometric information” as photograph, finger print, Iris scan, or
27.        such other biological attributes of an individual paving the way for DNA proofing.
28.        It exposes citizens to surveillance and identification technology companies – which are beyond national and international legal control- by indiscriminately collecting biometric data like fingerprints, iris scan, voice print, DNA etc.
29.        It creates scope for regressive eugenic thinking by adopting genetic determinism for social policies.
30.        It compromises citizens’ natural rights of present and future generations
31.        It is an unnecessary and wasteful project for citizens as it transfers public money to private parties.
32.        It transfers personal sensitive information to private entities and makes individuals incapable of self-protection.
33.        It allows State to aggregate different sets of personal information to profile a citizen and track his movements.
34.        It deprives the citizens of their right to file complaint. Even if his entire information is wiped out, residents and citizens cannot complain.
35.        It makes citizens vulnerable to crimes, financial frauds and identity thefts.
36.        It is different from other numbers assigned in ration card, driving license, passport number because it adopts a dehumanizing methodology for assigning the UID/Aadhaar number to residents of India.
37.        Aadhaar Act is an unprecedented breach of trust because it makes UID/Aadhaar “compulsorily mandatorily voluntary”.
38.        It fails to differentiate between identification and authentication of biometric or demographic data of Indian residents.
39.        It does not distinguish citizens from residents. It cannot distinguish legal residents from illegal residents.
40.        It does not allow Indians to identify themselves as Indian citizens and residents by their own assertion of who they are.
41.        It cannot distinguish between a genuine person and a non-existent person. It is indeed like the life-threatening disease Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which reduces the body’s ability to differentiate between internal and foreign cells. AIDS is the inability to recognise the self from non-self.
42.        It allows terrorists, criminals to create millions of fake identities, duplicates and use them to park black money, park bribes, finance terror and siphon subsidies and funds from the Consolidated Fund of India.
43.        Under the Act, UID/Aadhaar is not certified by any government official. The UID/Aadhaar database has never been verified or audited by anyone.
44.        It does not stop any leakage of subsidy because UID/Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t.
45.        It is in violation of Supreme Court’s verdict of 24th August 2017 pronouncing right of privacy as a fundamental right.
46.        It operates under the assumption that right to privacy is not a fundamental right. This assumption has been debunked by a 9-Judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court. The Constitution Bench ruled 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.
47.        It is used to recording transactions of all the Indian residents for all times to come.
48.        It is the opposite the Right to Information Act. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizens and residents, the UID/Aadhaar does the opposite inverse- it makes the residents and citizens transparent to the State.
49.        It opens scope for framing political persons for crimes.
50.        It can rewrite the electoral ecosystem by merging UID/Aadhaar database with electoral database and the UID numbers of EVM Machines.
            51.        It gives birth to the worst identity management systems in the world. 
 A look at India’s biometric ID system: digital APIs for a ...
Dr Gopal Krishna

The author had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that examined the Aadhaar Bill and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution that examined the Consumer Protection Bill. He is editor of www.toxicswatch.org and is the convener of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties which has been working on UID/Aadhaar issue since 2010.

Why Mahatma Gandhi opposed Aadhaar like biometric identification Act--Part VIII

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, July 14, 2018 | 3:37 AM

Before joining Indian National Congress, Mahatma Gandhi had opposed biometric identification- fingerprint based registration of Asians in general and Indian 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.

Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was 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. The Act required the re-registration of Indians who were currently resident in the colony. The registration documents required photo identification and a full set of fingerprints, and these documents were to be carried at all times, and to be made available to police on demand. 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. 

In many respects, this law amounted to a rational review of existing legislation in the aftermath of a total regime change, and did not, in and of itself, represent unusual discrimination for times, nor unreasonable demands on the population. Gandhi, however, made a repeal of the Black Act a central pillar of his early political activism, which in turn set the stage for a confrontation between the Transvaal Indian Community and the colonial government.

One of the lessons from the Satyagraha and freedom struggle is that law seeking biometric identification of Asians must be resisted. There is a logical compulsion for the Supreme Court to factor in this part of our history.

It must also be factored in that in South Africa, both Indians and Chinese were required by law to register their presence in the Transvaal by giving their fingerprints and carrying their passes. In response to such legal requirement, Gandhi encouraged Indians and Chinese to burn their passes. By this yardstick, it emerges that 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 numbers.   

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 February 2, 2013. Indians on the other hand appear to be addicted to forgetting lessons of their consistent defeats (in the battle fields and off the battle fields).

Among the defeats of Indians, the date of June 23, 1757 stands out. At page no. 502 of 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 Robert Clive, commander of the (English) East India Company’s army and renegade (he would later be tried in Britain for looting Bengal treasury) overthrows the 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, Nilekani has managed to somehow take the heads of key political parties, their beneficial owners and their loyalists into confidence. Court’s verdict on UID/Aadhaar 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 Madras, Calcutta and Bombay. The company started to protect its trade with its own armies and navies.

History repeats itself in simple ways. Capt Raghu Raman, who was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Union Ministry of Home Affairs had proposed creation of private territorial armies by commercial czars in his earlier incarnation with Mahindra Special Services Group as part of his previous work titled “A Nation of Numb People”. But the State seems to have gone ahead and has started providing Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), world’s biggest industrial security force to the 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. The publications of industry associations have pointed out that NATGRID and UID/Aadhaar are linked. Unless the Supreme Court is alive to the writing the writing on the wall its ramifications are bound to unfold and make their democratic rights redundant.     

The Court may recollect that Indians were taken into “uncharted waters” by unelected persons. UID-aadhaar and related schemes are meant to engineer the electoral system for good. 

The surveillance regime based on UID/Aadhaar is rewriting the political geography of the country by employing biometric and other intrusive automatic identification technologies. The resident numbering project took citizens for a ride by promising that the UID/Aadhaar is voluntary. Such deception ended up coercing people through rules and orders by denying services. In a reply to RTI query, UIDAI replied "There is no way of verifying the country of origin of the companies" when asked about the involvement of transnational companies as contractors. It indulged in fibbing. The fact is that UIDAI has been hiding the details of these contractors who are linked to foreign intelligence firms and agencies.

Disclosures and revelations widely reported underline how these technologies have put even heads of governments reveal that there is paucity of capacity to monitor or regulate these technologies within the Government. If this is the plight of the governments and technologically challenged political class, the threat for citizens can easily be understood.

Court must make the government 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.

Democratic mandate of 2014 was against turning India into a market democracy where executive and legislative decisions are driven by profit mongers not by public interest. It was a mandate against assault on democratic rights and diluting federal structure of the country.  Given the fact that the electoral verdict of 2014 was against the proponents of UID/Aadhaar project, it remains intriguing as to why a political leader and a Prime Ministerial candidate who opposed it in September 2013 at a BJP Youth Conference rally in Trichy and on 7th April 2014 at a Bharat Vijay rally in Bangalore and who tweeted on 8the April 2014 saying that Aadhaar has no vision, it is only a political gimmick, changed his mind after a closed door meeting between him, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Nilekani in late June 2014. Nilekani succeeded in getting the endorsement for the Aadhaar project.

In such a backdrop, the key questions facing the Constitution Bench are:
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?

Why are opposition parties taking starkly contradictory positions by implementing UID/Aadhaar number scheme even as they express their opposition to it?

What would Government of India and Parliament of India do when 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 democratically elected Morsi regime in the coup by the military in Egyp and the repression of Egyptian citizens there after?

What will application of judicial mind mean when the Court has sufficient evidence to infer that beneficial owners of meta data collecting and automatic identification technologies have overwhelmed Government of India resulting electronic and biometric invasion by foreign entities?

What is the lesson from Mahatma Gandhi’s opposition to biometric identification?  

The way all the agencies are linking demographic and biometric information with identification of citizens it is apparent that a permanent Emergency architecture is unfolding. The electoral database is also being converged. The idea is to make citizens transparent before the all mighty Government so that Government, their servants can remain opaque to safeguard the interests of undemocratic and ungovernable social control technology companies.

Dr Gopal Krishna

The author had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that examined the Aadhaar Bill and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution that examined the Consumer Protection Bill. He is editor of www.toxicswatch.org and is the convener of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties which has been working on UID/Aadhaar issue since 2010.
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