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Biometric NPR Makes Indians Worse Than Prisoners

 

By Gopal Krishna

To

Shri Rajnath Singh
Union Minister for Home Affairs
Government of
New Delhi

Subject-Biometric makes Indians worse than , violates Citizenship Act, Census Act and constitutional rights

Sir,

This is with reference to the release of Press Information Bureau
(PIB) titled “Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh Reviewed the
Scheme of National Population Register (NPR)” dated June 18, 2014, the
release of the PIB dated May 31, 2014 issued by Prime Minister’s
Office (PMO) abolishing Group of Ministers (GoM) regarding Issue of
Resident Identity Cards to all usual residents of the country of age
18 years and above under the scheme of National Population Register
(NPR) and Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of
India related issues that deal with biometric aadhaar number and
Hon’ble Supreme Court’s orders dated September 23, 2013 in the Writ
Petition (Civil) No(s). Writ Petition (Civil) 494 of 2012 W.P(C)
NO. 829 of 2013, W.P (C) NO. 932 of 2013, T.C.(C) NO. 152 of 2013,
T.C. (C) NO. 151 of 2013, W.P (C) NO. 833 of 2013 and CONMT.PET. (C)
NO.144/2014 IN W.P.(C) NO.494/2012 in the matter of biometric
aadhaar/UID number linked to MHA’s NPR which also generates aadhaar
number. The Hon’ble Court has listed the matter for hearing in the
month of July, 2014 as per the order of April 28, 2014.

I submit that Hon’ble Court’s order in the “Petition(s) for Special
Leave to Appeal (Crl) No(s).2524/2014 (UIDAI versus CBI) case merits
your attention. It reads: “In the meanwhile, the present petitioner is
restrained from transferring any biometric information of any person
who has been allotted the Aadhaar number to any other agency without
his consent in writing. More so, no person shall be deprived of any
service for want of Aadhaar number in case he/she is otherwise
eligible/entitled. All the authorities are directed to modify their
forms/circulars/likes so as to not compulsorily require the Aadhaar
number in order to meet the requirement of the interim order passed by
this Court forthwith” on March 24, 2014 reiterating its order of
September 23, 2013.

I submit that it was reported on October 6, 2011 that Gujarat Chief
Minister, Shri Narendra Modi wrote to the Prime Minister questioning
the need for National Population Register (NPR) by Registrar General
of India & Census Commissioner, Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Gujarat stopped collection of biometric data for creation of the NPR.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Shri Modi wrote, “there is no
mention of capturing in the Citizenship Act or Citizenship
Rules 2009”. He added, “In the absence of any provision in the
Citizenship Act, 1955, or rules for capturing biometrics, it is
difficult to appreciate how the capture of biometrics is a statutory
requirement. Photography and biometrics is only mentioned in the
Manual of Instructions for filling up the NPR household schedule and
even in that there is no mention of capturing the Iris”. (Reference:
http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/in-reply-to-pc-letter-modi-writes-to-pm-why-biometrics-for-npr-/856315/)

I submit that after Government of Gujarat stopped collection of
biometric data, the then Union Minister of Home Affairs, Shri P
Chidambaram sent a letter to Shri Modi in August 2011 pointed out that
creation of the NPR was a “statutory requirement” under the
Citizenship Act, 1955, and “once initialized, has to be necessarily
completed”. The Union Minister of Home Affairs had also requested the
CM to instruct state government officers to cooperate in creation of
the NPR.

I submit that UIDAI and related projects like NPR treats every Indian
as a subject of surveillance unlike UK which abandoned a similar
project (that used to be cited by Wipro Ltd in promotion of UID)
because it is “untested, unreliable and unsafe technology” and the”
possible risk to the safety and security of citizens.” It was recorded
by Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance that submitted a
report to both the Houses of Parliament on December 13, 2011 trashing
the biometric identification project and the post facto legislation to
legalize UIDAI and its acts of omission and commission since January
28, 2009 till the passage of The National Identification Authority of
India Bill, 2010. Notably, UK Home Secretary explained that they were
abandoning the project because it would otherwise be ‘intrusive
bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the
‘servant’ of the people, and not their ‘master’.

I submit that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate
Legislation is also seized with the compliant on “Subordinate
Legislation for Biometric Identity Card NRIC and Aadhhar/UID is
illegal & illegitimate and Constitutional, Legal, Historical &
Technological Reasons Against UID/Aadhaar Scheme on 18.3.2013.”

I submit that the entire issue is quite grave because the genocidal
idea of biometric identification is linked with the holocaust
witnessed in Germany. Such identification exercises have rightly been
abandoned in UK, Australia, China, USA and France. It is noteworthy
that Shri Nandan Nilekani as Chairman, UIDAI has admitted, “To answer
the question about what is the biggest risk” of centralized database
of biometric identification, he said “in some sense, you run the risk
of creating a single point of failure also” in his talk at the World
Bank in Washington on April 24, 2013.

I submit that five years of advertising and marketing by UIDAI with
help of a negative coalition of bankers, biometric technology
companies and a section of mainstream media that holds rights of
citizens in contempt created an illusion among the uninformed
citizenry that what pre-existing 15 identity proofs could not do, this
illegitimate and illegal biometric identifier will be able to do. The
new government has to demonstrate that it is not part of the coalition
of Shri Nilekani which wanted to collect biometric data any national
cost.

I submit that the advocates and supporters of biometric identification
who are part of the negative coalition that unconditionally and
blindly supports linking of fish baits for trapping the poor in the
biometric database are game for turning the all the Indians into
guniea pigs for an experiment that has resulted in incineration of
human beings in the past. The fact of this experimentation is
revealed from what Shri Nilekani said in his speech at the Centre for
Global Development, Washington. He said, “Our view was that there was
bound to be opposition. That is a given…we said in any case there is
going to be a coalition of opponents. So is there a way to create a
positive coalition of people who have a stake in its success? So, one
of the big things here is that there is a huge coalition of, you know,
organisations, governments, banks, companies, others who have a stake
now in its future. So, create a positive coalition that has the power
to overpower or deal with anyone who opposes it.”

I submit that a positive coalition of progressive political parties,
peoples’ movements and informed citizens will stand exposed as the
collaborators of undemocratic biometric technology companies, bankers
and NGOs will get a befitting reply during the upcoming elections.
These bankers, companies and their collaborators lost in UK,
Australia, China, France and USA, the new government should ensure
that lose in India as well.

I submit that Shri Nilekani’s method of reasoning is a case study, he
says, “We came to the conclusion that if we take sufficient data,
biometric data of an individual, then that person’s biometric will be
unique across a billion people. Now we have to find that out. We
haven’t done it yet. So we’ll discover it as we go along” on April 23,
2013. At his lecture at World Bank on April 24, 2013, he said, “nobody
has done this before, so we are going to find out soon whether it will
work or not”. No one can tell as to what is his premise and what is
the inference or how is inference is deduced from the premise he has
articulated.

I submit that tricked by the marketing blitzkrieg, some political
parties are wary of taking a position that would appear to be against
pro-poor schemes not realizing that come what may the real beneficiary
of this biometric identification are the Big Data companies.
I submit that Shri Nilekani admitted at his lecture the Centre for
Global Development in Washington in April 2013 that UIDAI has “created
huge opportunity for fingerprint scanners, iris readers”. The purchase
of these machines with money is also a leakage that merits probe.
Leakage can be plugged by rigorous implementation of Right to
Information Act and decentralization of decision making instead of
adopting a centralization approach and technological quick fixes.

I submit that the entire Indian and international media was taken for
a ride regarding a so called turf war between the Ministry of Home
Affairs and UIDAI which media was made to understand that got resolved
by diving the Indian population in two parts of 61 crore and 60 crore
for coverage under National Population Register (NPR) which also
generates Aadhaar number and UIDAI. The fact is the terms of reference
of the UIDAI mandated it “take necessary steps to ensure collation of
National Population Register (NPR) with UID (as per approved
strategy)”, to “identify new partner/user agencies”, to “issue
necessary instructions to agencies that undertake creation of
databases… (to) enable collation and correlation with UID and its
partner databases” and UIDAI “shall own and operate the database”. The
executive notification dated January 28, 2009 that set up UIDAI
mentions this. The entire exercise seems to have been stage managed.

I submit that on June 29, 2013, Shri Nilekani reportedly revealed that
they were in preliminary discussions with embassies to use the UID
number to “simplify visa application procedures”. Isn’t passport a
sovereign document? It is noteworthy that Shri Nilekani referred to
Aadhaar as akin to internal passport. For passport, there is Passport
Act, under what Act is this ‘internal passport’ being promoted?

I submit that Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order must be looked at in the
light of what of Government of India’s approach paper on privacy
states. It says, “Data privacy and the need to protect personal
information is almost never a concern when data is stored in a
decentralised manner. Data that is maintained in silos is largely
useless outside that silo and consequently has a low likelihood of
causing any damage. However, all this is likely to change with the
implementation of the UID Project. One of the inevitable consequences
of the UID Project will be that the UID Number will unify multiple
databases. As more and more agencies of the government sign on to the
UID Project, the UID Number will become the common thread that links
all those databases together. Over time, private enterprise could also
adopt the UID Number as an identifier for the purposes of the delivery
of their services or even for enrolment as a customer. Once this
happens, the separation of data that currently exists between multiple
databases will vanish.”

I submit that the Citizenship Act, 1955 is “an Act to provide for the
acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship”. The Citizenship
Rules, 2009 provides for creation of a Register of citizens saying,
“The Central Government shall maintain a register containing the names
and other details of the persons registered or naturalised as citizen
of India”. The Act and the Rules do not provide for creation of
Citizens Register based on without biometric data. As a consequence
what the Union Home Ministry did under the previous government through
NPR is without any legal mandate. According to the Manual of
Instructions for filling up of the NPR Household Schedule, 2011
prepared by the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner
(ORG&CCI), Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the objectives of NPR
involves “Collection of personal details of all residents of the
country and Capture of photograph and finger prints of all residents
who are of age 15 years and above in villages/urban areas.” The data
collection for preparation of NPR is undertaken along with the House
listing Operations of Census 2011. It categorically states that “NPR
will contain the details of all the ‘usual residents’ of the country
regardless of whether they are citizens or non-citizens.” If that is
the case how can it qualify to be an act under the Citizenship Act and
Rules given the fact that the Register will have both citizens and
non-citizens?

I submit that as per the Manual, NPR’s utility lies in creation of “a
comprehensive identity database in the country. This would not only
strengthen security of the country but also help in better targeting
of the benefits and services under the Government schemes/programmes
and improve planning.” In such a case isn’t Census itself quite
sufficient for it?

In fact given the fact that Census Commissioner is supposed to gather
the data of population under the Census Act, 1948 on the pre-condition
that it would be kept secret and it will not be revealed even to the
courts, when the Census Commissioner who is also the Registrar General
of NPR undertakes the collection of Indian residents’ data that
includes Indian citizens, a stark case of conflict of interest
emerges. This is so because unlike the data collected under Census Act
which is confidential as per Section 15 of the Act, the provisions of
the Citizenship Act and the citizenship or nationality Rules that
provides the basis for creation of the Register of citizens do not
provide for confidentiality. The fact is that there is no mention of
capturing biometrics in the Citizenship Act or Citizenship Rules. It
is clear that the collection of biometrics is not a statutory
requirement. This is not permissible even under Collection of
Statistics Act. But both Unique Identification Authority of India
(UIDAI) and ORG&CCI that are creating the aadhhar and aadhaar
generating NPR are collecting biometric data as well.

I submit that implementation of aadhaar and NPR s not a question of
duplication alone; it is a question of treating citizens worse than
prisoners.

I submit that the Identification of Prisoners Act provides that “Every
person who has been, (a) convicted of any offence punishable with
rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, or of any
offence which would render him liable to enhanced punishment on a
subsequent conviction, or (b) ordered to give security for his good
behaviour under Section 118 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898,
shall, if so required, allow his measurements and photograph to be
taken by a Police Officer in the prescribed manner.” The Act is
available on Internet.

It further provides that “Any person who has been arrested in
connection with an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a
term of one year or upwards shall, if so required by a police officer,
allow his measurements to be taken in the prescribed manner.”
As per Section 5 of the Act, “If a Magistrate is satisfied that, for
the purposes of any investigation or proceeding under the Code of
Criminal Procedure, 1898, it is expedient to direct any person to
allow his measurements or photograph to be taken, he may make an order
to the effect, and in that case the person to whom the order relates
shall be produced or shall attend at the time and place specified in
the order and shall allow his measurements or photograph to be taken,
as the case may be, by a police officer:”

Providing for a dignified treatment of the citizens of India, Section
15 of the Census Act establishes that “Records of census not open to
inspection nor admissible in evidence”. It reads: No person shall have
a right to inspect any book, register or record made by a
census-officer in the discharge of his duty as such, or any schedule
delivered under section 10 and notwithstanding anything to the
contrary in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, no entry in any such book,
register, record or schedule shall be admissible as evidence in any
civil proceeding whatsoever or in any criminal proceeding other than a
prosecution under this Act or any other law for any act or omission
which constitutes an offence under this Act.” Demolishing this dignity
of the citizens, the Union Home Ministry is dehumanizing citizens by
according them a status inferior to that of prisoners.

As per Section 7 of Identification of Prisoners Act, “Where any person
who, not having been previously convicted of an offence punishable
with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, has had
his measurements taken or has been photographed in accordance with the
provisions of this Act is released without trial or discharged or
acquitted by any court, all measurements and all photographs (both
negatives and copies) so taken shall, unless the court or (in a case
where such person is released without trial) the District Magistrate
or Sub-divisional Officer for reasons to be recorded in writing
otherwise directs, be destroyed or made over to him.”

But if one looks at the definition of the “Biometrics” which “means
the technologies that measure and analyse human body characteristics,
such as ‘fingerprints’, ‘eye retinas and irises’, ‘voice patterns’,
“facial patterns’, ‘hand measurements’ and ‘DNA’ for authentication
purposes” as per Information Technology (Reasonable security practices
and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011
under section 87 read with section 43A of Information Technology Act,
2000. It may be noted that last date of bid submission for opening of
bids for biometric enrolment was 8th Nov 2011. The rural bids and
urban bids for biometric enrolment were supposed to be opened on 9th
Nov 2011. Even as these exercises are unfolding, the fact remains
biometric data like finger print, voice print, iris scan and DNA do
not reveal citizenship.

I submit that officially, Home Ministry’s NPR which is mentioned in
Column 7 of the Aadaar/UID Enrolment Form seeks NPR Survey Slip No. is
aimed at creating a comprehensive database of all usual residents in
India based on digitization of demographic data captured during house
listing operation in 2010 and collection of biometric data (photo, 10
fingerprints, iris of both eyes) for age 5+. Census Commissioner who
is ex-officio Registrar General of India (RGI) has awarded the NPR
project to Department of Information Technology for 19 States and 2
Union Territories that covers a total population of 49 crores in urban
and 13 crores in rural areas, 74 zones and 410 districts.

It is relevant to note that Section 2 of the Information Technology
Act defines “data” as “a representation of information, knowledge,
facts, concepts or instructions which are being prepared or have been
prepared in a formalised manner, and is intended to be processed, is
being processed or has been processed in a computer system or computer
network, and may be in any form (including computer printouts magnetic
or optical storage media, punched cards, punched tapes) or stored
internally in the memory of the computer.” It does not explicitly
mention biometric data but given the fact that it refers to “whatever
can be processed in a computer system or computer network, and may be
in any form or stored” it seems implicitly included.

It may be noted that these exercises precede the proposed enactment of
Privacy Bill that defines “Record” as “any item, collection, or
grouping of information about an individual that is maintained by an
agency, including, but not limited to, his education, financial
transactions, medical history, and criminal or employment history and
that contains his name, or the identifying number, symbol, or other
identifying particular assigned to the individual, such as a finger or
voice print or photograph or DNA” in its Section 2 (p). The Bill
defines “surveillance as covertly following a person or watching a
person, placing secret listening or filming devices near him, or using
informants to obtain personal information about him” in Section 2 (o).
Section 60 (1) refers to “National Data Controller Registry” that is
proposed to be established as “an online database” and “appropriate
electronic authentication protocols”. It may be noted that DNA
Profiling Bill is also in the pipeline.

I submit that even as the surveillance infrastructure that was
bulldozed by the previous government unfolded in India, UK’s Deputy
Prime Minister Nick Clegg said in a speech in British House of Commons
said, “This government will end the culture of spying on its citizens.
It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated
as if they have something to hide. It has to stop. So there will be no
ID card scheme. No national identity register, a halt to second
generation biometric passports,” He added, “We won’t hold your
internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so.
Britain must not be a country where our children grow up so used to
their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question.
Schools will not take children’s fingerprints without even asking
their parent’s consent. This will be a government that is proud when
British citizens stand up against illegitimate advances of the state.”
The speech of the British Deputy Prime Minister is available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8691753.stm

I submit that it is quite significant to take note of these
developments to avoid the fate of Shri Tony Blair and his UK’s
Identity Cards Act, 2006. Both have been abandoned.

I submit that unlike UK, as per ORG&CCI, NPR process include
collection of details including biometrics such as photograph, 10
fingerprints and Iris information for all persons aged 15 years and
above. This is be done by arranging camps at every village and at the
ward level in every town. Each household is required to bring the
Acknowledgement Slip to such camps. In the next step, data is printed
out and displayed at prominent places within the village and ward for
the public to see. After authentication, the lists are sent to the
UIDAI for de-duplication and issue of UID Numbers. The cleaned
database along with the UID Number will then be sent back to the
ORG&CCI and form the NPR.

It is evident that ORG&CCI has amalgamated its two independent
mandates using two Forms for each household in India. The first form
relates to the House listing and Housing Census that has 35 questions
relating to Building material, Use of Houses, Drinking water,
Availability and type of latrines, Electricity, possession of assets
etc. The second form relates to the NPR that has 14 questions
including name of the person, gender, date of birth, place of birth,
marital status, name of father, name of mother, name of spouse,
present address, duration of stay at present address, permanent
address, occupation, nationality as declared, educational
qualification and relationship to head of family. There are 10 columns
in the Aadaar/UID Enrolment Form.

ORG&CCI admits that “all information collected under the Census is
confidential and will not be shared with any agency – Government or
private.” But it reveals that “certain information collected under the
NPR will be published in the local areas for public scrutiny and
invitation of objections. This is in the nature of the electoral roll
or the telephone directory. After the NPR has been finalised, the
database will be used only within the Government.”

I submit that while the dual work of Census and NPR has blurred the
line between confidential and non-confidential, UIDAI has gone ahead
to seek consent for “sharing information provided…to the UIDAI with
agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services” as per Column 9 of
the UID/Aadhaar Enrolment Form. Unmindful of the consent given by
residents of India (which is being ticked automatically by the enroler
in any case as of now), the fact is this information being collected
for creating CIDR and NPR is being handed over to private foreign
biometric technology companies like Safran group, a French corporation
with 30 % stake of French government for seven years.

I submit that World Bank’s President who introduced Shri Nilekani at
the lecture expressed his patronage for the project. Its video is
available Bank’s website. It is not surprising given the fact that
essentially it is part of its eTransform Initiative launched in April
2010 for 14 developing countries in partnership with transnational
companies like L1, IBM and governments of France and South Korea.

I submit that at another lecture on November 23, 2012 Shri Nilekani
talked about a gigantic naming ceremony underway-mankind’s biggest
biometric database ever and ominously stated that if you do not have
the Aadhaar card you will not get the right to rights. UID is like a
financial address for the people. The question is if Aadhaar card is
only an identifier of residents of India how does it accord to itself
an inherent right to approve or disapprove rights of citizens to have
rights? He mentioned the October 2012 report of the Report of the
Justice A P Shah headed Group of Experts on Privacy but ignored the
report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and Statement of
Concern on UID that Justice Shah had co-signed. When UIDAI Chairperson
acknowledged that privacy is larger than Aadhaar and says that legal
framework will even out the design risks, he took the audience for
ride because while the legal framework for both the UID and Privacy is
absent the implementation of UID and NPR is unfolding illegally and
illegitimately.

I submit that previous Government had put the cart before the horse,
how does Privacy Bill make sense when privacy of citizens is already
violated through aadhaar/UID related tracking and profiling system
being implemented.

In the face of such assault on Parliament’s prerogative, State’s
autonomy, citizens’ rights and the emergence of a regime that is
making legislatures subservient to database and data mining companies,
the urgent intervention of the PSC, Parliament, States, political
parties and citizens besides your action cannot be postponed anymore.

In view of the above, the biometric identification projects like
aadhaar number NPR should be abandoned as it constitutes violation of
basic human rights of the present generation and future generations.

I will be happy to share the documents cited in this letter with you.

Yours Sincerely
Gopal Krishna
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL),
Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731
E-mail:[email protected]

 

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