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Supreme Court's verdict of 4 Judges on UID/Aadhaar Act is deeply unscientific and anti-poor

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 | 9:08 AM

Press Note

Supreme Court's verdict of 4 Judges on UID/Aadhaar Act is deeply unscientific and anti-poor

Minority verdict echoes the statement of concern issued by 17 eminent citizens and the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance

26 Sept. 2018, New Delhi: Verdict of Supreme Court of 4 Judges of the 5-Judge Constitution Bench on biometric data based 12 digit Unique Identification (UID) number branded as Aadhaar is manifestly unscientific and anti-poor. The verdict was delivered today. It has taken citizens to pre-Magna Carta days (1215 AD) or even earlier, to the days prior to the declaration of Cyrus, the Persian King (539 BC) that willed freedom for slaves.

The Court failed to rigorously examine the ramifications of biometric information based identification of residents of India in the light of global experiences. UK, China, Australia, US and France have scrapped similar initiatives. US Supreme Court, Philippines’ Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights have ruled against the indiscriminate biometric profiling of citizens without warrant.

UID/Aadhaar is akin to to Sanjay Gandhi's forced family planning programs. Even Sanjay Gandhi faced the adverse consequences of forcing planning on human body. Aadhaar-linked programs make Indian citizens subjects of Big Data companies.

The opening statement of the verdict authored by by Justices A.K.Sikri and concurred by, Dipak Mishra, and A.M. Khanwilkar reads: “It is better to be unique than the best. Because, being the best makes you the number one, but being unique makes you the only one. 2) Unique makes you the only one’ is the central message of Aadhaar, which is on the altar facing constitutional challenge in these petitions.”

Before going through the 1448 page long verdict, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) submits as a initial reaction that this opening statement in the order is questionable from scientific point of view.  A report “Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities” of the National Research Council, USA published on 24 September 2010 concluded that the current state of biometrics is ‘inherently fallible’. That is also one of the findings of a five-year study. This study was jointly commissioned by the CIA, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Another study titled “Experimental Evidence of a Template Aging Effect in Iris Biometrics” supported by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Biometrics Task Force and the Technical Support Working Group through Army contract has demolished the widely accepted fact that iris biometric systems are not subject to a template aging effect. The study provides evidence of a template aging effect. A “template aging effect” is defined as an increase in the false reject rate with increased elapsed time between the enrollment image and the verification image. The study infers, “We find that a template aging effect does exist. We also consider controlling for factors such as difference in pupil dilation between compared images and the presence of contact lenses, and how these affect template aging, and we use two different algorithms to test our data.”

A report “Biometrics: The Difference Engine: Dubious security” published by The Economist in its 1 October 2010 issue observed “Biometric identification can even invite violence. A motorist in Germany had a finger chopped off by thieves seeking to steal his exotic car, which used a fingerprint reader instead of a conventional door lock.” Notwithstanding similar unforeseen consequences Prime Minister’s faith in biometric remains unshaken. It seems that considerations other than truth have given birth to this faith. Is there a biological material in the human body that constitutes biometric data which is immortal, ageless and permanent? Besides working conditions, humidity, temperature and lighting conditions also impact the quality of biological material used for generating biometric data. UID/Aadhaar is based on the unscientific and questionable assumption that there are parts of human body likes fingerprint, iris, voice etc” that does not age, wither and decay with the passage of time.

Stalwarts like Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, a people’s judge of the Supreme Court, S R Sankaran, a people's bureaucrat and K. G. Kannibaran, author of The Wages of Impunity had opposed biometric UID/Aadhaar and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Their views were endorsed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. The dissenting order of Justice Chandrachud echoes their views. The  Bhartiya Janata Party led Government like the previous Congress Party led Government has been bulldozing the Unique Identification (UID) /Aadhaar number database project down the throat of citizens. 
Before their death Justice Iyer, Kannabiran and Sankaran issued a Statement of Concern against the biometric UID/aadhaar number in September 2010 along with fourteen other eminent citizens. The Statement of Concern reads: “The project that proposes to give every resident a `unique identity number’ is a matter of great concern for those working on issues of food security, NREGA, migration, technology, decentralisation, constitutionalism, civil liberties and human rights....This project is intended to collect demographic data about all residents in the country." It further reads: "The involvement of firms such as Ernst & Young and Accenture raise further questions about who will have access to the data, and what that means to the people of India."

The statement also observed the following: "Constitutionality of this project, including in the matter of privacy, the relationship between the state and the people, security and other fundamental rights."

In the light of the tragic cases of civil death and actual deaths caused by UID/Aadhaar project since September 2010, there is a compelling logic for abandoning this project like other civilized countries. This project treats citizens worse than prisoners. It is aimed at enslaving present and future generations of Indians including future PMs, CMs, Judges and soldiers by the beneficial owners of ungovernable technology companies who have turned political parties into puppets through their limitless anonymous donations. 

In the face of assault on citizens’ rights and the emergence of a regime that is making legislatures and judiciary subservient to automatic identification, big data mining and artificial intelligence companies, the majority verdict on UID/Aadhaar project and Aadhaar Act has undermined the sovereignty of the country.

Majority verdict of the Supreme Court has missed the opportunity to save Indians from the dictator ship of anonymous donors who have compromised national security and almost all the public institutions.

If it is not reviewed soon India's social policies will be guided by biometric and genetic determinism and eugenic thinking or not. It demonstrates that right to have natural and human rights of citizens can be made conditional by their servant, the government. 

Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) used this Statement of Concern to launch its campaign for freedom from UID/Aadhaar in 2010. Since it has been demanding stoppage of biometric and demographic data collection for the UID/Aadhaar project. CFCL is involved in the research and advocacy against surveillance technologies like UID/Adhaar and DNA profiling. It had appeared before the  Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that questioned and trashed the biometric identification of Indians for UID/Aadhaar.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb: 9818089660, E-mail:krishnaruhani@gmail.com 

Why UID/Aadhaar is not required for rations?- Part XIII

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 | 3:24 AM

It has come to light that ration card shops are demanding UID/Aadhaar number from ration card holders, therefore, there is a need to inform the concerned shop owners and the concerned state department about the notifications and letter of Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution prohibiting demand for UID/Aadhaar from non-Aadhaar holders.  

As per the Consumer Guide of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, “Aadhaar is not a compulsory scheme at all, it is a voluntary based scheme and anyone who is interested can enroll for Aadhaar.”

As per Section 1 (3) of the February 8, 2017 notification of the ministry, in cases where an individual does not have an Aadhaar, the notification states that the following documents be produced for providing food grains:
1.      Ration Card issued by the State Government Department;
2.      Copy of Aadhaar enrollment ID slip or copy or request made for Aadhaar enrollment; and
3.     Any of the eight documents specified in the notification like PAN card, Voter ID etc.

According to the Letter of Pramod Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Food &Public Distribution, Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution sent to Principal Secretary/ Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department of all States on the subject of Aadhaar Seeding with Ration Cards on24 October, 2017, “No person or household shall be deleted from the list of eligible households and denied subsidised food grains or cash transfer of Food subsidy under NFSA only on the ground of not possessing Aadhaar.” The letter was copied to CEO of UIDAI.

The amendments to the relevant provisions of the National Food Security Act 2013 makes it clear that those desirous of availing subsidy may get themselves enrolled for UID/Aadhaar till 30 September 2018. It is not mandatory. 

The notifications, relevant and the press release given below for ready reference:
 1.      Amendment (Extension till 30 September 2018) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act (Issue Date 02/07/2018. Valid up to 02/07/2020) [Amendment dated 29th June, 2018 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
2.      Amendment (Extension till 30June2018) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act (Issue Date  02/04/2018. Valid up to 31/03/2021) [Amendment dated 2nd April, 2018 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
3.      Amendment (Extension till 31March2018) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act (Issue Date 05/01/2018. Valid up to05/01/2019) [Amendment dated 26th December, 2017 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
4.      Amendment (Extension till 31Dec2017) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act regarding requirement of Aadhaar Number/ Aadhaar authentication for subsidies under PDS. (Issue Date 28/09/2017       Valid up to 31/12/2020) [Amendment dated 28th September, 2017, 2017 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
5.      Amendment - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act regarding requirement of Aadhaar Number/ Aadhaar authentication for subsidies under PDS. (Issue Date 06/07/2017 Valid up to 01/07/2019) [Amendment dated 29 June, 2017 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]

6.      Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act regarding requirement of Aadhaar Number/ Aadhaar authentication for subsidies under PDS (Issue Date 10/07/2017 Valid up to 10/07/2020) [Amendment dated 8 February, 2017]
7.      Press release note for notification under Aadhaar Act (Issue Date10/07/2017 Valid up to 10/07/2020) Refer to last paragraph of the Press release-July 10, 2017

In a related development, on 31st July, 2018, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, C. R. Chaudhary informed Lok Sabha that “Department has issued clear instructions to all States/UTs that no beneficiary/household shall be deleted from the list of eligible beneficiaries/households only on the ground of not possessing Aadhaar, and shall also not be denied subsidized foodgrains or cash transfer of food subsidy under NFSA due to non-availability of Aadhaar or failure of biometric authentication due to network/connectivity/ linking issues/ poor biometric of the beneficiary or other technical reasons.” The fact remains UID/Aadhaar cannot be linked to entitlements of social benefits and services because the entitlements are for “citizens” of India, not residents of India. UID/ Aadhaar number claims to be proof of residentship in India.

In a RTI reply on the application of Dr Anupam Saraph dated January 29, 2018 provided by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) of Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), it has been admitted that UIDAI does not certify the identity, address, date of birth, resident status or existence of any individual or any Aadhaar number. Given the fact that certification is essential to identify the  person  and  agency responsible for the issue of the identification document and to establish their legal liability for the identification with the person, even the claim of UID/Aadhaar number being proof of residentship has been found to be bogus, akin to misleading advertisements by vendors of all shades. 

In such a backdrop, UID/Aadhaar cannot be relied upon by central and state departments of consumer affairs, food and public distribution and other departments. It is high time all the central and state ministries and agencies updated their notifications in the light of the revelations made in these RTI replies and abandon UID/Aadhaar number database project.   

 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 Kuldip Nayar opposed centralized databases like UID/Aadhaar? –Part XII

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, August 23, 2018 | 5:15 AM

While delivering his welcome address introducing the legacy of Justice V M Tarkunde, the stalwart of civil liberties who stepped down voluntarily as judge of the Bombay High Court in 1969 to work as a lawyer in public interest, Kuldip Nayar, former member of Rajya Sabha, veteran journalist and former ambassador observed on November 23, 2012 ahead of the Sixth Justice VM Tarkunde Memorial Lecture that had Justice Tarkunde been alive he would have opposed centralized databases like Union Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) and Centralized Identities Data Registry (CIDR) of Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number because it is an assault on civil liberties and human rights. He underlined that the democratic space is shrinking. This project will further aggravate the situation.

Civil liberties activists who were present on occasion walked out in protest when Nandan Manohar Nilekani, the then Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) began his memorial lecture. The walk out was a protest against Nilekani being invited to deliver the lecture in memory of the stalwart of human rights and civil liberties, Justice Tarkunde. The UID project has been challenged since its inception. The activists who walked out of the lecture have repeatedly tried to engage with Nilekani at various public platforms but he has consistently declined to answer their questions or enter into any discussion with them. But till date these concerns and questions remain unanswered.

Prior to the lecture when activists approached Kuldip Nayar to persuade him to disassociate himself from this event, he opined that he will not disassociate himself with the program because of his long association with Justice Tarkunde but he will surely articulate his concerns about UID/Aadhaar and the views of  Justice Tarkunde. He endorsed the protest by the civil liberties activists. The activists had walked out the moment Nilekani began to deliver his lecture.  

Notably, Kuldip Nayar had read a Statement of Concern on UID/Aadhaar issued by 17 eminent citizens which included demands like “The (UID/Aadhaar) project be halted, a feasibility study be done covering all aspects of this issue, experts be tasked with studying its constitutionality, the law on privacy be urgently worked on (this will affect matters way beyond the UID/Aadhaar project), a cost: benefit analysis be done and a public, informed debate be conducted before any such major change be brought in.”  This statement was circulated among the people who had come attend the lecture of the then Chairman of UIDAI.

The organizers rushed and tried to take back the Statement paper but several members of the audience refused to hand over the papers. As the activists walked out, the organizers termed the peaceful and silent distribution of the Statement of Concern on UID as ‘trouble’. After the program, many members of the audience who came out after hearing the lecture revealed that it was not at all convincing.

Notably, PUCL disassociated itself from the Sixth Justice VM Tarkunde Memorial Lecture program because of wrong choice of speaker. In a letter dated November 21, 2012 to the human rights community, V Suresh, National General Secretary (Elect), People’s Union for Civil liberties (PUCL) said, “We had issued a statement where we made explicit that our opposition to UDIAI has not changed nor our continuing to oppose the UID project. We had also spoken to and followed by writing to the organisers informing our stand on UIDAI, that selection of a person like Mr. Nilekani is  contradictory to the very ideals that Justice Tarkunde’s  work and persona reflected, and therefore the demand for calling off the lecture as also that we did not want to be associated with the event.”

A letter was issued after the event with the following questions:
1.   Why do we need Unique Identification (UID)-Aadhaar Number as a 16th identity proof which in fact is an identifier and not an identity proof. Hasn’t linking of cash transfer with UID made it mandatory contrary to its continued claim that it is voluntary? 
In the beginning, it was said that the UID would be voluntary. Now, it is creeping into becoming mandatory, with the threat that those who don’t have a UID cannot access services of many kinds, including rations and bank accounts. How does Nilekani see the implications of this creep for civil liberties and the rights of the people?
2. Why present and future Indian citizens should be allowed to be profiled based on biometric data? Are citizens worse than prisoners? The indiscriminate collection of biometrics of prisoners is not allowed as per Identification of Prisoners Act.
3. Why have countries like UK, Australia, the Philippines rejected UID/Aadhaar like projects?
Countries such as the UK, Australia, the Philippines have rejected identity projects that closely resemble the UID/Aadhaar project because of its civil liberty implications, the prohibitive cost, the untested technology and because it will make the people subservient to the state. What is the reason for thinking that Indian citizens can bear these risks and costs?
It may noted that Supreme Court of Republic of the Philippines July 23, 1998 rejected the National ID program initiated by President Fidel V. Ramos on December 12, 1996 through “Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System” in its 60 page judgment on two important constitutional grounds, viz: one, it is a usurpation of the power of Congress to legislate, and two, it impermissibly intrudes on our citizenry’s protected zone of privacy.
4. Who will be held accountable for violation of citizen’s privacy law and data protection?
The UID/Aadhaar project poses a threat to the privacy rights of citizens.
5. If violation of confidentiality promised in the Census Act cannot be done with impunity, how can census like UID/Aadhaar exercise be trusted? 
6. What is the guarantee that whosoever controls Centralized Database of Indians will not become autocrat like Hosni Mubarak who handed over citizens’ database to US Government?
7. Isn’t the entire UID/Aadhaar related exercise meant to provide market for biometric and surveillance technology companies and World Bank’s partners like International Business Machines (IBM), Gemalto, Intel, Safran Group, Microsoft, and Pfizer, France and South Korea?
There is an extraordinary dependence on corporations, many of them companies with close links with foreign intelligence agencies. How are the implications of this factor being dealt with?
8. Isn’t linking of UID with voter id, land titles, National Intelligence Grid, National Population Register (NPR), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) etc an assault to rights of citizens? 
The ubiquity that the UIDAI is trying to get for the UID — where it will be linked with the National Population Register, and service such set ups as the CCTNS, the NCTC, the NATGRID– where are the protections for the citizen from an invasive state?
9. Who will guarantee that the centralized database of UID, NPR will not be used for holocaust, genocide, communal and ethnic riots, targeting of minorities and political dissidents?          
10. Why is technology treated as if it has no politics, or no civil liberties implications, when we know that it most certainly does have implications?
11. Did Nilekani in his role in the rank of the Cabinet Minister taken the oath on Constitution of India to abide by its provisions?

When Kuldip Nayar pondered over these questions he felt a logical compulsion to express his opposition centralized databases like UID/Aadhaar numbers database.

Civil liberties activists are opposed to UID/Aadhaar like databases because it is laying the structural basis for authoritarianism and illegitimate advances of the State at the behest of the ungovernable and unregulated foreign biometric and surveillance technology companies. The collection of biometric data supports the ideology of biological determinism with its implicit and explicit faith in the biometric technologies. There are dangers of trusting such technological advances for determining social policies and dangerous ramifications of the unfolding automatic identification regime being facilitated by it in the face of corporate media unquestionably promoting identification and surveillance technology companies.

UID/Aadhaar is rewriting and engineering the electoral ecosystem with the unconstitutional in a context where electoral finance has become source of corruption and black money in the country. This would lead to linking of UID, Election ID and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which is not as innocent and as politically neutral as it has been made out to be. It is noteworthy that all EVMs have a UID numbers as well.

It is significant that on the 16th day of final hearing in UID/Aadhaar case, petitioner’s lawyer while arguing against the passage of Aadhaar Act, 2016 as Money Bill before the 5-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court cited the decision of the Court in Kuldip Nayar v. Union of India. Drawing on it he submitted that the Rajya Sabha in a bicameral legislature cannot be bypassed as it plays an important role in a federal Constitution. He further underlined the importance of Rajya Sabha and its importance in a federal structure of governance.  In Kuldip Nayar case Court observed: “Under Article 83(1) of the Constitution, the Rajya Sabha is a permanent body with members being elected for 6 year terms and 1/3rd of the members retiring every 2 years…. Rajya Sabha’s  role was undermined when Aadhaar Act, 2016 was enacted as a Money Bill despite manifest provisions in it revealing that it does not have the character of a Money Bill. The Rajya Sabha cannot be dissolved.” Amidst his opposition to UID/Aadhaar, Kuldip Nayar was deeply concerned about the constitutional role of Rajya Sabha. Now it is for the Court to ensure that Rajya Sabha’s role is restored.

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 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

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