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India- A totally disappointing Union Budget 2018 from the Disability perspective

The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) has issued the following statement:

The Union Budget 2018-19 comes as a big disappointment to the disabled community in the country. It seems as though the disabled do not figure in the Finance Minister’s “fast growth economy” trajectory.

The passage of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (RPD Act) had ushered in great hopes and expectations among the disabled community who continue to be on the margins. However, the miserly outlays for the various positive provisions contained in the Act point to the utter lack of sincerity on the part of the government to implement its provisions.

The total outlay for the department for the empowerment of persons with disabilities shows a marginal increase of 215 crores as compared to last year. The allocation towards Schemes for the Implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA) is a mere Rs. 300 crores. This includes provision for the much touted “Accessible India” campaign under which the target set is for making 600 public buildings accessible, 600 official websites accessible and making transport systems accessible among others. It is another matter that the campaign excludes from its ambit the vast majority of the rural areas.

As for railways, the last few budgets have seen grand announcements being made of rail transport and stations being made accessible for all including the disabled. Given the number of unfortunate incidents reported in the media it was expected that the government would respond adequately. While there is no mention about the progress in the implementation of the announcement made last year of providing lifts and escalators in 500 railway stations, this year the Finance Minister has announced that escalators would be provided at 600 stations having a footfall of 25000 and above. Lifts which can be used by the disabled do not find mention in his speech. Also missing mention is about fulfilling the commitment made in the 2016-17 budget to provide accessible toilets at all railway stations.

Further, no new scheme has been announced or any substantial increase in allocation for existing schemes been made despite the mandate of the RPD Act. There has been no upward revision in the amount of disability pension and it remains stagnant at Rs. 300/- for the past many years.

While the Finance Minister lauded the outcomes of various insurance schemes, and also announced the launching of the National Health Protection Scheme, ironically the central government has not been releasing money for the Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme launched in 2015 for persons with disabilities through the New India Assurance Company Limited. The insurance company has now stopped collecting premium from beneficiaries. It is also disturbing that even while talking of health care the Finance Minister maintained complete silence on Mental Health. This despite the enactment of the Mental Health Care Act in 2017.
Unfortunately, in the absence of disaggregated data on allocations across various ministries for disability a clearer picture does not emerge. This has been one of the key demands of the disability sector.

It becomes abundantly clear that the disabled continued to be abjectly neglected and excluded from the “ease of living” which the Finance Minister so pompously talked about.

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Octogenarian Dr Jonathan Fine who dared to go where even Indians did not dare #RIP

  
by- Kamayani Bali Mahabal
As I opened my inbox today….. Tributes to Dr Jonathan  Fine in PHR newsletter, made me just Jump and Scream. And there was a flashback of almost  7 years .
Let them call me rebel and welcome.
I feel no concern from it;
but I should suffer the misery of devils,
were I to make a whore of my soul…
                    – Thomas Paine
This was his signature on the his mails …….

Dr. Jonathan Fine died at age 88 on January 17  in his house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jonathan Fine had been one of the founders of Physicians for Human Rights in Boston in 1986, and was a very outspoken Director.He was convinced that medical testimonies of human rights violations were important and pivotal in establishing human rights violations, in bringing the perpretators to court and in rehabilitating the victims.Fact-finding missions, facilitating forensic investigations of mass murders, and torture cases made Physicians for Human Rights a key player in the international community of human rights organizations.

 

I met Jonathan in 2009, as a part of my series of lectures  in USA on the issues of  women rights with support of AID India .Jonathan  was   Secretary, AID Boston he was 80years young  and active . At his age he was good on mails  and always with his camera too . All his event mails would have line

Out of respect for others, please arrive on time.  Thanks!

Jonathan clearly had a burning conviction for the rights of the poorest especially their right to health and someone who would inspire many of us with his energy, passion and ability to bring structure and purpose to our endeavors to help the most marginalized.

He told me that  he was inspitred to viist India after listening to Yogesh Jain  of Jan  Swasthya Sahyog of Chhattisgarh speak in Boston , he then decided to visit  remote Chhattisgarh at the young age of 80+! He knew he had to do something and do something he would!He also  took it upon himself to spread the word and seek health professionals looking for short or medium term internships at JSS.

He was in Bilaspur for a month from Jan -Feb 2010  80 + Jonathan managed with no western toilet, had no qualms sitting with tribals on floor and eating. No airs at all from a man, who was also one of the founders of IFHHRO in the late 1980s. Together with the then Chair of the Dutch Johannes Wier Foundation for health and human rights, Dr. Adriaan van Es, Jonathan Fine decided that health-related human rights advocacy should have an international forum.

Therafter , he started his blog

The Story of Dasrath, Part II: http://povertyandhealth.blogspot.com/2010/02/dasraths-story-part-ii-harshness-of.html

After a month he writes

03 February 2010 -Jan Swasthya Sahyog, Ganiyari, Bilaspur District, Chhattisgarh, India

Dear Friends,

I am this week concluding a one month’s visit to Jan Swasthya Sahyog / JSS (The People’s Health Support Group) in Chhattisgarh, a state in Central India.

I write to you now because JSS, which serves the most destitute of India, is critically short-staffed and volunteer opportunities abound. (I personally will return in July 2010 to assist with a documentation project, based on personal histories, on how poverty and ill-health interact, each re-enforcing the other.)

Founded ten years ago, Jan Swasthya Sahyog/JSS (People’s Health Support Group) is one of India’s and the world’s most spectacularly successful experiments in the delivery of health care to impoverished rural communities. JSS provides comprehensive primary care services to 53 remote, extremely deprived, forest communities but also receives poor patients from a total of 1,500 villages in central Chhattisgarh at its hospital and outpatient facilities in the village of Ganiyari, Bilaspur District.

JSS is a leader in low-cost technologies it has designed for rural diagnostic, preventive and curative health services. The group is equally renowned for its publications and advocacy for fundamental reforms needed to bring access and equity in health care to all of rural India. Many of the founder members were trained at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi or at the Christian Medical College, Vellore.

With an ever-increasing patient load, and the provision of all levels of clinical services, public health, and even sponsorship of agricultural development, its medical staff is severely overtaxed and short-staffed in clinical, research, public health initiatives and supporting specialty roles.

The hope is that volunteers may be found to come to Ganiyari for periods ranging from three months to two years. Each will make an enormous difference in the lives of severely impoverished villagers and have the experience of a lifetime working with world-class physician and non-physician professionals and allied staff.

Recently, I interviewed Yogesh Jain, one of the founding physicians of JSS, on the volunteer professional staff that SS urgently needs to recruit. That interview is immediately below.

If you or any friends may be interested, you may write to me personally if you wish or to Dr. Jain and his colleagues at JSS directly at the e-mail address that follows.

Please also consider forwarding this message to others. Thanks!

–  Jonathan E. Fine, M.D., M.P.H.

 

Jonathan again came to India in 2011,  to  volunteer for JSS and to show solidarity for Dr Binayak sen who was still incarcerated in Jail, We as part of the campaign organised a talk at KEM hospital on “Why physicians should engage with Human Rights”

 

the pics of event on the link

https://www.facebook.com/kamayani/media_set?set=a.10150407776175368.619428.861570367&type=3

Here is his speech

 

During his visit to give impetus to  free binayak sen campaign, Jonathan fine suggested we start a chapter of physicians for human rights in India.

Following statement was issued on Jan 4,2011, Binayak Sen;s 61st Birthday

‘Physicians for Human Rights’ is a worldwide organisation established in 1981 with a solid
foundation of over two decades of investigation, advocacy and accomplishment. It has
campaigned vigorously for the human rights of health care workers in various countries and
has been in the forefront of the International campaign for justice for Binayak Sen. In fact its
founder Jonathan Fine has been in India closely following the case and was present at
Binayak’s trial.

We choose to offer the position of Honorary Chairman of Physicians for Human Rights /
India to Dr Binayak Sen who has given his life to these principles and to serve the poorest
among us. Without neglecting others equally worthy, we will work tirelessly for his release
from prison and complete exoneration of unjust accusations. His prompt return to the fight
for human rights, civil liberties and service of India’s masses is essential for the sake of our
nation. We strongly communicate our dismay and call for the dropping of charges,
recognition of his exceptional contribution to Health & Human rights, his sacrifices & his
deep commitment, & rare integrity, his proclaimed consistent support of Non-Violence. It was
for the above human values reflected in his life & work he was awarded for being a role
model for Medical students, by CMC Vellore his Alma Mater, R R Keithan award for
demonstrating the values of the “father of the Nation” and Johnathan Mann award for his
work with the Tribals.

‘Physicians for Human Rights’–India will mobilize health professionals to advance health,
dignity and justice, and to promote the right to health for all.
‘Physicians for Human Rights’–India will join with physicians and health professionals
similarly organized in other countries to add our voices in support of persecuted fellow health
professionals in all countries. We will speak out against torture, physical and psychological
abuse, and all forms of repression harmful to the public health. We will work tirelessly to
bring our medical skills to the struggle for the attainment of human rights for all people. We
pledge to uphold the finest traditions of the medical and allied health professions to
investigate and report objectively on all findings of abuses in contravention to the constitution
of India, the United Nations Covenants on Social, Political and Economic Rights and the
Geneva Conventions and Protocols.

ENDORSEMENTS

1.     Dr Amte   Bharati  , Maharogi Seva Samiti, Anandwan, Warora, Maharashtra

2.     Dr. Amte Sheetal , Maharogi Seva Samiti, Anandwan, Warora, Maharashtra

3.     Dr. Amte Vikas , Maharogi Seva Samiti, Anandwan, Warora, Maharashtra

4.     Dr Anand R K, Paediatrician, Mumbai

5.     Dr  Bal Arun, Surgeon, Mumbai

6.     Bali- Mahabal Kamayani, ,  Health and Human Rights Activist,Mumbai

7.     Dr Bhojraj Shekhar , Orthodepic Surgeon, Mumbai

8.     Dr  Chatterjee Garga , Researcher and Physician Kolkata

9.     Datta, Saurav ,  Law Teacher and Human Rights Activist, Mumbai

10.   Duggal Ravi, Health Activist, Mumbai

11.  Dr.Gangolli Leena V  Public Health Physician, Mumbai

12.  Dr  Gupte Manisha , Feminist and Health rights activist, Pune

13.  E Pinto, Premdas Health Activist, Bangalore

14.  Dr Gaitonde, Rakhal Community Health Researcher, Bangalore15.  Jesani Amar ,  Health Activist, Mumbai

16.  Dr  Kalantri, S P  Physician, Wardha

17.  Dr  Karmarkar  Santosh ,Paediatric surgeon Mumbai

18.  Dr  Korde Vivek  Family Physician, Mumbai

19.  Dr  Lokhandwala, Yash Cardiologist, Mumbai

20.  Dr Morparia Hemant Radiologist, Mumbai

21.  Dr  Nagral  Sanjay GI surgeon ,Mumbai

22.  Dr  Naik Deven, Family Physician, Mumbai

23.  Nohira Sathyashree , Health Activist, Bangalore

24.  Dr   Pai Sanjay , Pathologist, Bangalore

25.  Dr Pandya Sunil, Neurosurgeon, Mumbai

26.  Dr  Roy Nobojit , Surgeon, Mumbai

27.  Dr  Shiva Mira , Public Health Physician ,Delhi

28.  Dr  Singh S P , Gastroenterologist, Cuttack

29.  Dr   Thomas  George , Orthopaedic surgeon, Chennai

 

Jonathan Fine also played a  crucial role ,  in  Free soni sori campaign after medical reports were recieved from Kolkata, he personally campaigned with Physician for human rights and amensty intrenational to declare soni sori as  prisoner  of conscience.

Dr. Fine was one of the seminal figures who launched an entire movement of doctors and other health professionals bringing their expertise, all the tools they have, to the human rights struggle, Jonathan was not only fearless himself, but he instilled this passion in others  to defy convention, to do what’s necessary. He was an inspiration, to health professionals and human rights activists,

Physician for Human Rights- India , has been defunct, I hope we all can revive it as a real tribute to Dr Jonathan Fine . For me he was human rights activist first and health professional later, his passion for human rights violations always vociferous and still his loud voice reverberates .

 

 

 

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Violence in Kasganj Sponsored by BJP: Former DIG, UP Police

Press Statement by S. R. Darapuri, Former DIG U.P. & convener of Jan Manch.

Communal riot in Kasganj was pre-planned, which is evident by the events of that day. On the said day, on the occassion of 26th January, Muslims of Kasganj PS area had organised a meeting at Abdul Majeed Chowk. At the same time, approximately 100 youths belonging to Hindu Yuva Vahini, ABVP and RSS arrived there on Motor Cycles holding Tricolor and Saffron Flags, shouting slogans. They asked the organisers to hoist the saffron flag instead of the Tricolour. At this point, Muslims requested them to take the other route, but they insisted on using that way only and ruined the rangoli made there by the motor cycle.

On this, quarrel started between both the groups, at that point the people from that ‘Tiranga March’ started shoutingw objectionable slogans like “If you want to live in India, You will have to say Vande Matram” and “Mullas deserve only one place : Pakistan or Graveyard”. As things escalated, stone pelting and firing from both the sides srarted in which a boy from one side died and two people from the other group also got shot. One person who has sustained the bullet injury has said that he recieved it when a Sub-Inspector of the Police fired at him. After this all, rioters from one side burned one bus, one tractor, and one stall. This is mentionable that the so called Tricolour March was being carried without any permission. After this incident, heavy police enforcements were posted in the town.

The next day, after the last rites of the deceased youth, the BJP MP gave this incinting speech that “We cannot forego the death of our this youth on any condition.” After this speech of his, even after the presence of heavy Police force, the riot again started and a house and six shops belonging to muslims were burned. It has come to the notice that even after the presence of heavy police force, shops and vehicles belonging to the muslims have been again burned. It is a matter of concern that how this arsoning could take place in even in presence of the Police Force. Role of the Police is also under doubt.
It is clear from these events that the communal riot in Kasganj was a part of the riot politics of BJ

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Calling Mumbai- Stop #Aadhaar before it Destroys you #BreakAadhaarChains

Join us on January 12, from 4-6pm at the Mumbai Press Club as we respond to the government in one voice that we do not support this Aadhaar-enabled coercion!

#BreakAadhaarChains

 

  • Rachna Khaira of the Tribune, Chandigarh, broke the story of admin logins to the UIDAI official site being sold for Rs. 500, giving access to billions of Aadhaar details! The UIDAI responded by filing an FIR against her and the Tribune!
  • The UIDAI announces the creation of temporary “Virtual IDs” which, in the view of tech experts, will not work unless all existing Aadhaars – already publicly available – are revoked and reissued!
  • The Justice B.N, Srikrishna Committee has put out a white paper calling for a public consultation on a data protection framework, and is currently holding public meetings.
  • “If people do not have Aadhaar cards, do they not exist for the government?” the Supreme Court asked on January 10, in a hearing on night shelters requiring the homeless to show Aadhaar as proof of identity.

 

Aadhaar, the supposedly unique identity, involves the largest collection of personal information anywhere in the world. No other democracy subjects its citizens to such a lifelong risk. Today, Aadhaar is required for a host of services from birth certificates to death certificates, school admissions, scholarships, PDS rations, NREGA job cards, bank accounts, mobile services – the list is endless. This expansion has happened despite the growing number of exclusions and denial of welfare benefits, subsidies, and other services for want of an Aadhaar number, and data security breaches.

 

Multiple #AadhaarLeaks and #AadhaarScams have repeatedly exposed how every facet of Aadhaar security, including biometrics, are prone to being hacked. Foreign companies with dubious origins have been contracted to ‘store, transfer and process’ our personal information, posing a threat to national security. With the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench set to decide the validity of Aadhaar in hearings starting January 17, we may have just one last chance to stop Aadhaar – before it alters our lives completely.

 

#BreakAadhaarChains is a campaign to stop the government from treating us like criminals out to loot the state.

Join us on January 12, from 4-6pm at the Mumbai Press Club as we respond to the government in one voice that we do not support this Aadhaar-enabled coercion!

Participants include JT D’Souza (Biometrics Expert), Sakina Dhorajiwala (Welfare Researcher), Vickram Crishna, Dr. G Nagarjuna, Kamayani Bali Mahabal (petitioners), Krishnakant Mane (Free Software Activist), Mithun (Activist), The Banned (Protest Musicians)

 

SVP (WhatsApp preferred): Raghu/ godavar (Member, Rethink Aadhaar), +91-97177-49998

Facebook-  https://www.facebook.com/events/390591071397124/

 

 

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Media bodies slam ‘attack on freedom of press’ #AadhaarFail

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The FIR is unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press, said the Editors Guild
  • It is clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest, the statement said

File photo used for representational purpose

UIDAI case: Media bodies slam ‘attack on freedom of press'

NEW DELHI: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)’s lodging of an FIR naming the Tribune+ in which news about the breach in the system was printed, and also the reporter who had filed the story, drew strong reactions from journalists’ bodies, which condemned it as an “attack on the freedom of the press”.

A statement issued by the Editors Guild said, “The Guild condemns UIDAI’s action to have the Tribune reporter booked by the police as it is clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest. It is unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press.”

The statement, which gives details of the charges under which the reporter, Rachna Khaira, was booked – IPC sections 419 (punishment for cheating under impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (using a forged document) and under sections of the IT Act and the Aadhar Act – asks the union ministry to withdraw the cases against her, and “conduct an impartial investigation into the matter.”

The Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps and Press Association too strongly objected and condemned the FIR registration. “Rather than addressing the loopholes which would actually ensure safety and security of the data and allay the general concerns about this, the UIDAI has chosen to persecute those whose actions appear to have been only in public interest,” read a statement issued by the journalists bodies collectively.

Criticising the FIR as “intimidatory, obstructionist and inimical to the pursuit of free, fair and independent journalism”, the statement asked for a withdrawal of the complaint against the reporter. A statement by the Foundation for Media Professionals, while referring to the FIR as an “assault on free speech”, said, “By allowing such FIRs to be registered, the government is clearly signalling that the functioning of UIDAI, however controversial, is out of bounds for journalists and other whistle-blowers.”

 By The Network of Women in Media in India

The Network of Women in Media, India, is appalled that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has reportedly lodged a police complaint against Rachna Khaira, a journalist at The Tribune, over her report on the vulnerability of Aadhaar data.

The story, ‘Rs 500, 10 minutes and you have access to billion aadhaar details‘ and the follow-up, ‘Aadhaar whistleblower who first called uidai’, published on January 3, 2017, had described how it was possible to buy access to personal information about citizens stored in the Aadhaar database for as little as Rs. 500. On January 4, based on a complaint by UIDAI, a first information report (FIR) was filed against Khaira for alleged offences, including cheating and forgery.

The UIDAI appears to lack basic understanding of how journalism works.

Khaira’s report conclusively demonstrates fundamental flaws in the way the Aadhaar programme has been structured. This is public interest journalism. The UIDAI should be welcoming and acting on reports like Khaira’s, not stifling them.

The UIDAI action raises concerns about whether it is meant to intimidate journalists and deter them from reporting freely on the Aadhaar programme. This is a blatant attack on the freedom of the press, as well as the public’s right to information. Other journalists and civil society groups who have revealed failings in the Aadhaar programme have been targeted as well. This must stop.

We also condemn the charges that have been brought against whistleblowers Anil Kumar, Sunil Kumar, and Raj, all of whom were mentioned in Rachna’s report. Such punitive action against sources and whistleblowers is completely unacceptable.

As a public authority, the UIDAI is answerable to the public. If there are weaknesses in the system, they need to be fixed. Shooting the messenger is not the responsible or accountable way forward. The media will not be cowed down by these legal browbeating tactics.

The NWMI calls upon the UIDAI to immediately withdraw the complaint against Rachna Khaira and her sources.  Instead, it must direct its action against those who have compromised the security of the Aadhaar database.

 

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#Aadhaar Fraud – Airtel let off lightly by the Modi Sarkar #WTFnews

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Airtel is let off lightly by the government despite being in clear violation of the law in a case that exposes the flaws and dangers in the ecosystem surrounding Aadhaar

 

DESPITE its clear violation of the law, telecom major Airtel appears to have been let off lightly by the government. And that story, though reported, has neither led to adequate punishment nor has it received the extent of media attention it deserves. The story is that Airtel used its position as a dominant mobile services provider to strengthen its new role as a “payments bank” by exploiting a loophole in a system created through the decisions of multiple agencies. The company not only opened a large number of payments bank accounts in the names of its mobile subscribers without their knowledge, it also transferred direct benefit payments due to them under the LPG subsidy scheme to these new accounts as against those previously specified by them. The scale of the scam is large given the relatively short period for which it could have been operative. The cooking gas subsidy due to 4.7 million customers totalling around Rs.167 crore was reportedly diverted to Airtel Payments Bank accounts over a period of two months.

Once the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) detected the malpractice, it sought to conceal its own culpability by (i) declaring it a violation of the Aadhaar Act, 2016; (ii) requiring Airtel to deposit an interim penalty of Rs.2.5 crore with the UIDAI; (iii) obtaining an assurance that the bank will immediately return Rs.190 crore that had been transferred to unsolicited accounts out of the LPG subsidy due to its mobile clients; and by (iv) announcing that Airtel and its payments bank will not be able to use the UIDAI’s Aadhaar-linking system to either verify mobile subscriptions or open new bank accounts.

However, the last of these penalties has proved temporary and extremely short-term. Under the current dispensation, the abrogation of the right to verify mobile subscriptions was perhaps the only penalty of significance imposed on Airtel because all unverified subscribers would have to be disconnected from the Airtel network by February 6. That would have been a significant setback for Airtel in the current competitive mobile telephony market. But it would also have put the government’s push to make Aadhaar-linking mandatory for all mobile subscriptions in jeopardy. So, within a few days the UIDAI decided to allow Bharti Airtel Ltd to resume Aadhaar-based electronic know-your-client (e-KYC) verification of telecom subscribers until January 10.

 

There was wrongdoing implicit in Airtel’s act of creating unsolicited bank accounts and transferring to them subsidies due to the clients. While opening an Airtel account is free, there is an implicit charge as the account cannot be closed without paying a “set off balance” of Rs.50. Moreover, once funds are deposited with Airtel Payments Bank, withdrawals are subject to a charge. Airtel’s clients did not know that they would have to pay to access their own money, just as many had no knowledge of the accounts opened in their name.

After it was discovered to be in violation of the law, Airtel returned the money it had “virtually stolen”, paid a small penalty and expressed its contrition by finding a fall guy. Airtel Payments Bank’s chief executive, Shashi Arora, resigned, although the company attributed that to a personal decision, unrelated to the scam. What is surprising is that the mainstream media, which would have sensationalised any scam of this magnitude, chose to give it limited coverage, as if it were news that was marginal. No strident opinion here, expressing the voice of the nation.

There are at least four possible reasons for the government being so lenient and for the mainstream media almost ignoring the issue (despite some exceptional coverage by online news portals). First, the scam reveals weaknesses and dangers in the government’s Aadhaar or unique identity number programme, which the government has pursued with missionary zeal, although the scheme has been challenged in court.

Second, the incident makes it clear that the scam was facilitated by an initiative of the government to force-link mobile phone connections and Aadhaar card numbers.

Third, the scam involved the manner of implementation of two other of the government’s pet programmes—the direct benefit transfers scheme for reaching subsidies to beneficiaries and the push towards greater digital financial transactions through a number of routes, in this case, the use of payments banks.

Finally, news of the discovery was perhaps partly suppressed since it involved a major corporate such as Airtel.

Disturbing details

The details of the “scam” are disturbing. Airtel is licensed to launch a payments bank, which it did on January 13, 2017. “Payments banks” are allowed to accept deposits of up to Rs.100,000 but cannot provide loans. Further, 75 per cent of the deposits accruing to these banks have to be invested in low-yielding but safe government securities. This means that while these banks compete with commercial banks to mobilise deposits and have to pay high interest rates to attract deposits, a large share of their funds would be locked in low-yielding government securities. Airtel chose to go aggressive and offered depositors an interest rate of 7.25 per cent, much higher than the 4 per cent offered by Paytm Payments Bank and the 3.5 to 6 per cent offered by commercial banks.

 

Since payments banks cannot lend, their revenues to cover costs and generate profits have to be based substantially on incomes from fees derived from deposit holders. This makes payments banks uncompetitive, so much so that only a few of the original 11 licensees have chosen to pursue the business. Airtel set high fees to partly cover its high interest rate offer to depositors. Withdrawals from an Airtel account exceeding Rs.100 are charged a fee that rises with the size of the withdrawal, and touches 0.65 per cent for transactions above Rs.4,000. Transfers of more than Rs.1,000 from Airtel Payments Bank to any other bank are charged 0.5 per cent of the amount involved. The strategy possibly was to attract depositors, impose high fees and then move interest rates downwards, to extract a profit.

The interest would have been initially paid out from new deposits in a Ponzi-like scheme. But once depositors became aware that they would be charged for all payments excepting those that were extremely small or were transacted within Airtel Payments Bank, they were unlikely to bank with the mobile operator. Clearly, Airtel’s high interest offer to depositors was not sustainable in the long run. To address this problem, Airtel worked out a scheme to generate deposits without the knowledge of the depositors themselves. This it did by exploiting the government’s decision based on a Supreme Court order in Lokniti Foundation vs Union of India, that for “security” reasons the government must put in place a scheme to verify holders of all mobile subscriptions within a year of February 6, 2017. Since the government’s plea was that this was being done by using biometric information attached to Aadhaar numbers for new and renewing prepaid subscribers, it interpreted the Supreme Court’s order as amounting to making e-KYC verification based on the Aadhaar database mandatory for holding a mobile phone subscription after February 6, 2018. Since subscribers were being constantly warned of the prospect of disconnection, despite a case in the Supreme Court questioning the government’s claim that Aadhaar linking of mobile numbers was mandatory, a rush to do this followed. Linking requires subscribers to validate their biometric information at the mobile service provider’s premises by connecting to the UIDAI database.

One possibility is that Airtel chose to collect biometric information more than once from its subscribers (by claiming failure to validate). Only one of those instances of collection was used to link mobile and Aadhaar numbers. The other was used to create the Airtel Payments Bank account, link it to the Aadhaar number of the client and in the process override earlier preferences of the bank account to which direct benefit transfers were mandated. The result was a large inflow of deposits to those accounts without the consent of the deposit-holders, who, in most cases, did not even know that the accounts existed.

 

This occurred not only because Airtel chose to misuse the system but also because the ecosystem surrounding Aadhaar and its use as a surveillance device in multiple circumstances is deeply flawed. An analysis by Anand Venkatanarayanan and Srikanth Lakshmanan in the news portal, The Wire, argues that Airtel was aided by the acts of commission or omission of three other players: the Central government, “which pushed ahead with its direct benefit transfer scheme and mandated the Aadhaar-based re-verification of mobile phone subscribers”; the National Payments Corporation of India, which handles digital payments and settlement systems; and the UIDAI, which created the e-KYC framework.

It is because of this joint responsibility, which shows up Aadhaar to be a deeply flawed project, that Airtel has been able to get off lightly. But that is in keeping with the special rules that the behemoths created by neoliberal, market-friendly policies enjoy the world over. In fact, the Airtel scam is similar to what Wells Fargo was charged with in the United States a little more than a year ago.

The Financial Sector Protection Bureau (FSPB) of the U.S. discovered that more than 5,000 employees of the bank had, over five years, opened more than a million new banking accounts and half a million or so credit card accounts in the names of its customers without their knowledge, in order to meet sales targets. The customers were charged a fee before the accounts were closed. Thus, through fraudulent “cross-selling”—the selling of new products to existing customers—and fake outcomes, employees met their targets and enhanced their incomes.

The fraud was either missed or ignored by senior management for a very long time. But even there the settlement for ending the investigation into these violations required Wells Fargo to pay a fine of only $185 million, and set aside $5 million to compensate clients who were charged fees on accounts they had no knowledge of. Relative to the net profits of more than $20 billion that Wells Fargo was expected to record in 2016, the fine was not really much damage. On the other hand, more than 5,000 employees lost their jobs on charges of fraud, while senior management went scot-free.

http://www.frontline.in/columns/C_P_Chandrasekhar/the-airtelaadhaar-fix/article10008384.ece

Related posts

Memorandum to Home Affairs Committee on Security issues of #Aadhaar

Date:

 by- Rethink Aadhaar Campaign

To,

Chairperson and Members

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs

 

Sub: Grave security concerns related to Aadhaar

 

 With regard to the committee’s work on Aadhaar, and in continuation of our earlier Memorandum highlighting privacy and security concerns of Aadhaar, we would like to highlight few real world security issues encountered with Aadhaar and the associated ecosystem. We would like to point to these issues to highlight the gravity of the misuse of Aadhaar and potential harms in the future to come.

 

Aadhaar in principle as a Digital Identity cannot establish the identity of an individual without being verified through a digital transaction, either an authentication by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) or by the user through his online verification password and / or biometric authentication. This concept of a Digital Identity is not entirely understood by an average citizen or any individual collecting this information as part of the Government requirements. This is leading to citizens being confused and harmed due to the security lapses made at various levels in the ecosystem. Some of these security issues can be fixed with due diligence and further improvements in security, but the current design of the Aadhaar architecture and infrastructure is inadequate to protect citizens from harm due to negligence.

 

We hope the points being highlighted are used constructively to improve it and make an average individual not prone to any harm in the cyberspace.

 

 

Reported Misuse Cases of Aadhaar:

 

● The lack of electronic infrastructure to establish this identity is severe and makes people accept a paper copy of Aadhaar of any individual as a proof of identity. Photoshopped Aadhaar cards are being used to fake identity, brokers are trading copies of Aadhaar for as low as Rs 5 causing potential identity and financial risk to law abiding citizens.

● In a reported incident in Bhubaneswar, a foreign national Zeboo Asalina of Uzbekistan was found with an alternate identity Aadhaar of Duniya Khan as a resident of Lajpat Nagar in South Delhi.

● Aadhaar is not a proof of age as clarified by the UIDAI, but Aadhaar is being used to claim minor children as majors in flesh trade as consenting adults with wrong date of births or with photoshopped physical copies of Aadhaar.

● There have been several reports of rogue enrollment centres enrolling multiple individuals with no verification at all, Adding to it sophisticated security modifications were performed to bypass security protocols of UIDAI by making new biometric clients and cloning biometrics using polymer resins in Kanpur as reported by the UP Police Special Investigation Task Force.

 

 

 

Information Security of Aadhaar Demographic Information:

● There have been several reports of publication of Aadhaar demographic information containing Aadhaar Number, name, age, date of birth, caste, bank account numbers by various government and non-government entities.

● The information of Aadhaar numbers along with bank account numbers and several demographic information can be used to easily commit financial fraud by rogue elements. The information published by various departments on the internet will always be a threat, as there are hundreds of search engines indexing and storing public information available on the internet.

● A report by Centre for Internet and Society estimated just 4 government websites published demographic information of 13 crores Aadhaar numbers of individuals along with 10 crore bank account numbers.

● Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology in his written reply to Member of Parliament SHRI M.B. RAJESH clarified that 210 government websites of  Central Government, State Government departments including educational  institutes were displaying the list of beneficiaries along with their name, address, other details and Aadhaar numbers for information of general  public.

● The Application programming interface of Aadhaar allows third party companies to perform E-KYC, who in turn are required to store the KYC details for audits. Private companies cannot be trusted with the security of Aadhaar Demographic Information. There have been several security breaches reported within private sector including the recent breach of telecom service provider “Jio”, whose subscribers demographic details were found on internet forums. Whether the security breach within Jio servers, has also caused any potential leak of Aadhaar numbers has not been yet asserted.

● There is no clarity on who is allowed to collect Aadhaar from an individual. With no active publicity of where Aadhaar is not mandatory, Citizens are under risk by sharing it with everyone. Increasingly several private internet companies like Amazon India, Ola Cabs, Paytm are demanding the Digital Identity for E-KYC with no official government order in place. This misunderstanding of what Aadhaar is will make it hard for Demographic Information to be secure at any given point of time.

 

Security of Biometrics and usage within Aadhaar Ecosystem:

 

● Biometrics unlike passwords cannot be modified in the event of breach, it is near impossible to change fingerprints and iris of an individual. However they are easily accessible directly from an individual to collect it under various circumstances like social engineering or stealing by just using a polymer resin.

● Biometric scanners can also be easily fooled with cheap adhesives, Around 200 students of Institute of Chemical Technology in Matunga used polyresins to spoof attendance. 

● Biometric readers currently used in practice do not encrypt the fingerprint images at source, the encryption of images occurs on mobile or computer device application and then is uploaded to CIDR for verification. There is always a possibility for malware or secondary computer programmes running in the background to capture biometric details at source collection.

● The UIDAI has issued new specifications for devices to collect biometric data in January 2017 only, the new specifications make it mandatory to use recognized biometric devices. Yet, these biometrics devices do not encrypt the biometric data within device again and are prone to attacks.

 

Security of Central Identities Data Repository:

 

● The Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) houses all of the biometrics and demographic information has been classified National Critical Information Infrastructure. For security reasons within the architecture of Aadhaar, CIDR is not connected to the internet directly. Around 254 Authentication Service Agencies are licensed to access CIDR directly through a secure network, which in turn allow other licensed entities to indirectly access CIDR.  

● An Engineer Abhinav Srivastava has been arrested for indirectly accessing CIDR without permission. He exploited an Application Programming Interface (API), security key used by a government Android Application “e-Hospital“ developed by National Informatics Center, which has direct access to CIDR.

● The licensed entities which are allowed to have access to CIDR are not always secure from cyber-attacks. This poses a risk for CIDR being prone to attacks from sophisticated malware.

● There is no mandatory audit or a security framework which various private and government entities have to strictly follow to get access to Aadhaar APIs, they are required to follow Aadhaar Data Regulations under the Aadhaar Act after they get license to access Aadhaar API’s.

● One of the private companies Syntizen Technologies Pvt Ltd. on whom the UIDAI has filed a criminal complaint for maintaining aadhaarupdate.com is contracted to maintain the official Aadhaar Service Agency for Govt. of Telangana and is part of the sandbox firms of IndiaStack, A set of official government APIs maintained by the industry body iSPIRIT whose volunteers built the CIDR.

 

State Resident Data Hubs:

 

● State Resident Data Hubs (SRDH) are databases with demographic information linked with all services residents in states of India access from government. These databases are part of the Aadhaar ecosystem and not mentioned while describing the Aadhaar Architecture. UIDAI has actively helped various state governments build these databases by providing them with demographic data by terming it Know Your Resident  (KYR) data.

● State governments collect Aadhaar numbers of citizens and actively link it with every government database containing personal information of the resident, which often includes race, religion, caste, tribe, ethnicity, language, records of entitlement, income or medical history. SRDH contains every information about the resident giving the state government a 360 degree information of residents. Governments in various states of India have been found to conduct field surveys to collect door to door information including geotagging the location of the resident.

● Unlike CIDR, the SRDH databases are connected to the internet and pose a major threat if these databases are ever breached. The user names for Andhra Pradesh SRDH have been published online, making it further easy for cyber criminals to only guess the passwords.

● SRDH is how various state governments link mandatory Aadhaar requirement for various schemes. When a citizen has not proactively linked his Aadhaar for any particular service from the Government, the SRDH allows force seeding of Aadhaar from their KYR data provided by UIDAI. KYR data also includes Aadhaar enrollment number, whose Aadhaar number is automatically provided by UIDAI once the Aadhaar is generated.

● SRDH of Andhra Pradesh called e-Pragati/People-Hub has integrated 76 government projects with Aadhaar as identifier. SRDH projects are designed to conduct mass surveillance of residents and are out-right against the fundamental Right to Privacy guaranteed under the constitution.

 

Potential Risks associated with Misuse of Aadhaar Data:

 

● Aadhaar is a direct threat for existence of an individual in our democracy, his digital identity once stolen can be misused to commit fraud or worse kill him and take over his place. Aadhaar provides the state so much power over an individual, if his digital identity is terminated he ceases to exist. It can be used as a kill-switch to stop an individual from accessing every tiny basic service.

● Demographic data like medical records associated with Aadhaar can be misused by foreign, domestic state actors and non-state actors like corporates houses to surveil individuals of interest, personal information of individual can be misused to target him emotionally, socially or physically.

● The CIDR doesn’t store the race and religion data of any individual. But the SRDH and other associated databases of the government have been found to link Aadhaar number with caste, religion and income information. This information can be misused by biased individuals to discriminate residents over their religious or caste background.

● With so much data of individuals being stored in the SRDH databases, a political party in government can misuse this information to profile citizens electorally and cause populist decision making in our democracy. Aadhaar data being used for elections cannot be ruled out as a possibility.

● Corporate surveillance of competitors is not unheard of in India, Aadhaar data actively allows employees/citizens being surveilled constantly and increases the risk for an individual to ever legally proceed against corporates.

 

We would also like to highlight that there is no official policy by the Unique Identification Authority of India to accept security reports from third party security researchers doing important work on identifying security loopholes of Aadhaar.

 

We have put together a presentation as a supplement to this document which also summarizes our main concerns.

 

We would have greatly appreciated an opportunity to present our views in person either to you or to the Standing Committee formally. Please do let us know if that can be arranged.

 

We would also like to request you to use the information outlined in this Memorandum and the earlier one to raise Aadhaar related concerns in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament and demand answers from the government. Please do not hesitate to reach out in case of any further assistance or help.

 

Related posts

India – Your #Aadhaar details on sale for Rs 2-5 #WTFnews

 How can govt make sure your data is safe?

India Today investigation reveals how the staff at UIDAI enrolment centres are willing to sell information for petty cash.

Agents at several enrolment agencies are willing to part with demographic records collected from Aadhaar applicants for Rs 2-5.Agents at several enrolment agencies are willing to part with demographic records collected from Aadhaar applicants for Rs 2-5.

Nandan Nilekani‘s trailblazing biometric ID system, apparently modelled on first FBI director J Edgar Hoover‘s massive central database of fingerprints, is in spotlight after reports of a cyber attack which leaked Aadhaar data. A report by The Tribune had claimed that one of its reporters paid just Rs 500 to an ‘online agent’ to access names, addresses, PINs, photos, phone numbers and emails of more than 1 million numbers.

However, an India Today investigation has revealed that the Aadhaar data breach racket is not merely online, but could be widespread with agents at several enrolment agencies willing to part with demographic records collected from Aadhaar applicants for Rs 2-5.

Enrolment agencies are entities hired by the Registrars for enrolment of residents during which demographic and biometric data are collected as per UIDAI enrolment process, according to uidai.gov.in.

One such enrolment agency is Alankit Assignments Limited, located in Faridabad. “You can see for yourself,” said Alankit’s branch head Ishpal Singh when asked is this Aadhar data as he planked an entire file of 250 applicants on his desk.

YOUR CHOICE- SCAN THROUGH OR COPY DATA

“I can give you data of 15,000 applicants for Rs 30,000,” a brazen Singh, who is the branch head of Alankit, told India Today reporters, who posed as businessmen seeking to expand their database of potential customers. He was ready to provide an applicant’s name, address, birth date, mobile numbers and email for merely Rs 2.

Subsequently, Singh advised the India Today reporters to copy down every bit of information from his dossiers right there. “I will give you a bundle of 250 forms (application acknowledgements). I have records of 50,000 applicants. You can note down all the data.”

The probe shows how Section 28 of the Aadhaar Act, which states that the UIDAI must ensure the security and confidentiality of identity information and authentication records, is brazenly flouted. “The Authority shall adopt and implement appropriate technical and organisational security measures, and ensure the same are imposed through agreements/arrangements with its agents, consultants, advisors or other persons,” Section 28 further states.

PRIVACY GONE FOR A TOSS

Nilekani, the architect of Aadhaar, had vouched for its security last April. “It’s a very, very secure system. The level of encryption that Aadhaar has is way above any other system today, including in the private sector. Plus, security keeps getting enhanced,” he had said.

Another enrolment centre at Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, was willing to sell data of 4-5 lakh applicants. Senior official Ashish Gupta offered the database not only from this facility, but also from three others under his command in Delhi.

“I’ll get the data on an Excel sheet,” Gupta replied when asked if he could offer information about all the applicants in Indirapuram. He is ready to provide all this data for Rs3-5 per applicant.

An Aadhaar enrolment centre at Sector 10, Noida, was no different with the main agent, Sonu, demanding Rs 4-5 per applicant. “I have made 40,000 Aadhaar cards so far.” He offered PDF copies of acknowledgements of applicant’s information.

These agents are operating with blatant disregard for the Aadhaar Act. Section 37 of the Act says “intentional disclosure or dissemination of identity information, to any person not authorised under the Aadhaar Act, or in violation of any agreement entered into under the Act, will be punishable with imprisonment up to three years or a fine up to ten thousand rupees (in case of an individual), and fine up to one lakh rupees (in case of a company)”

2 से 5 रुपए में मिल रहीं आधार की डिटेल, एनरोलमेंट एजेंसियों के एजेंट बेच रहे डाटा

आधार कार्ड आधार कार्ड
मो.हिज्बुल्लाह/मसरूर हसन [Edited by: खुशदीप सहगल]

मो.हिज्बुल्लाह/मसरूर हसन [Edited by: खुशदीप सहगल]

नई दिल्ली , 05 जनवरी 2018, अपडेटेड 21:09 IST

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आधार डेटा लीक होने संबंधी एक साइबर हमले की रिपोर्टों के बाद नंदन नीलेकणि का विकसित किया बॉयोमीट्रिक आईडी सिस्टम सुर्खियों में है. आधार का मॉडल मोटे तौर पर पहले एफबीआई डायरेक्टर जे एडगर हूवर के बनाए फिंगरप्रिंट्स के विशाल डेटाबेस की तर्ज पर बना है. ‘द ट्रिब्यून’ की एक रिपोर्ट में दावा किया गया कि एक ‘ऑनलाइन एजेंट’ ने उसके रिपोर्टर को महज 500 रुपए के बदले लॉग इन आईडी और पासवर्ड देकर देकर दस लाख नंबरों की प्राइवेट जानकारी देखने की सुविधा दे दी. दावे के मुताबिक इस जानकारी में नाम, पता, पोस्टल कोड, फोटो, फोन नंबर, ई-मेल आदि देखा जा सकता था.

हालांकि इंडिया टुडे की विशेष जांच टीम की तहकीकात में खुलासा हुआ कि आधार डेटा में सेंध लगाने से जुड़ा रैकेट सिर्फ ऑनलाइन तक ही सीमित नहीं है और इसके तार व्यापक पैमाने पर फैले हो सकते हैं. जांच से सामने आया कि कई एनरोलमेंट एजेंसियों के एजेंट आधार आवेदकों से हासिल की जानकारी के रिकॉर्ड महज 2 से 5 रुपए में बेचने को तैयार दिखे.

Uidai.gov.in  के मुताबिक रजिस्ट्रार्स की ओर से एनरोलमेंट एजेंसियों की सेवाएं भाड़े पर ली गई थीं. इन एजेंसियों की UIDAI  प्रक्रिया के तहत नागरिकों को एनरोल कर उनके डेमोग्राफिक और बॉयोमीट्रिक आंकड़े जुटाए जाने थे.

ऐसी ही एक एजेंसी ‘अलंकित असाइनमेंट्स’ फरीदाबाद में स्थित है. यहां के ब्रांच प्रमुख इशपाल सिंह से अंडर कवर रिपोर्टर कारोबारी बनकर मिले और अपने संभावित ग्राहक तलाशने के लिए आधार डेटा खरीदने की बात की. इस पर इशपाल ने 250 आधार आवेदकों की फाइल मेज पर रखते हुए कहा कि ये आधार डेटा है और ऐसा ही 15000 डेटा आपको दूंगा. इस काम के लिए इशपाल ने 30,000 रुपए की मांग की. हैरानी की बात है कि इशपाल एक आधार आवेदक के नाम, पते, जन्मदिन, मोबाइल नंबर और ई मेल की जानकारी महज 2 रुपए में देने को तैयार दिखा.

इसके बाद इशपाल ने इंडिया टुडे के अंडर कवर रिपोर्टर्स को अपने डोजियर्स से हर जानकारी कॉपी डाउन करने की सलाह दी. इशपाल ने कहा, ‘मैं आपको 250 फार्म्स का बंडल दूंगा. मेरे पास 50,000 आवेदकों का रिकॉर्ड है. आप सारा डेटा हासिल कर सकते हैं.’

जांच से सामने आया कि किस तरह आधार एक्ट के सेक्शन 28 की खुलेआम धज्जियां उड़ाई जा रही हैं. सेक्शन 28 के मुताबिक आवेदकों की पहचान से जुड़ी जानकारी और उसके प्रमाणन रिकॉर्ड की सुरक्षा और गोपनीयता को सुनिश्चित करने की जिम्मेदारी UIDAI की है. सेक्शन 28 में आगे कहा गया है कि अथॉरिटी जरूरी तकनीकी और सांगठनिक सुरक्षा उपायों को अपनाए और अमल में लाए. साथ ही एजेंटों, सलाहकारों और अन्य व्यक्तियों से समझौते या अनुबंध करते वक्त भी इन सुरक्षा उपायों का पालन सुनिश्चित करे.

आधार के सूत्रधार नंदन नीलेकणि ने बीते साल अप्रैल में आधार की सुरक्षा पुख्ता होने का दावा किया था. उन्होंने कहा था कि ये बहुत बहुत सुरक्षित सिस्टम है. इंडिया टुडे के अंडर कवर रिपोर्टर्स ने गाजियाबाद के इंदिरापुरम में स्थित एक और एनरोलमेंट सेंटर का रुख किया. ये सेंटर 4-5 लाख आवेदकों का डेटा बेचने को तैयार दिखा. यहां के वरिष्ठ अधिकारी आशीष गुप्ता ने ना सिर्फ इस सेंटर से बल्कि दिल्ली में अपने तहत आने वाले तीन और सेंटरों से भी डेटाबेस उपलब्ध कराने की बात कही.

आशीष गुप्ता से जब पूछा गया कि क्या वो इंदिरापुरम के सभी आवेदकों की जानकारी उपलब्ध करा सकता है तो उसने कहा, ‘मैं एक्सल शीट पर डेटा उपलब्ध करा दूंगा.’ आशीष गुप्ता ने 3-4 रुपए प्रति आवेदक के हिसाब से जानकारी हासिल कराने की पेशकश की.

नोएडा के सेक्टर 10 में स्थित एक एनरोलमेंट सेंटर भी इस मामले में अलग नहीं दिखा. यहां के प्रमुख एजेंट सोनू ने जानकारी देने के लिए प्रति आवेदक 4-5 रुपए के हिसाब से मांग की. सोनू ने दावा किया कि उसने अभी तक 40,000 आधार कार्ड बनाए हैं. सोनू ने आवेदकों की जानकारी की पावती की पीडीएफ कॉपी देने की पेशकश की.

ये एजेंट और अधिकारी आधार एक्ट के प्रावधानों को खुलेआम ठेंगा दिखाते हुए इस गोरखधंधे में लगे हैं. आधार एक्ट का सेक्शन 37 कहता है, “किसी भी व्यक्ति की पहचान से जुड़ी सूचना का प्रसार या इरादतन खुलासा आधार एक्ट के तहत अधिकृत नहीं है. एक्ट के तहत किसी भी समझौते के उल्लंघन पर तीन साल तक कारावास की सजा या दस हजार रुपए तक जुर्माना (व्यक्ति की स्थिति में) हो सकता है. कंपनी की स्थिति में जुर्माना एक लाख रुपए तक हो सकता है.”

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/aadhaar-details-on-sale-for-rs-2-5-uidai-securing-data/1/1124473.html

Related posts

Edward Snowden on #Aadhaar leak: Governments’ use of private details leads to abuse

  • ‘History shows that no matter the laws, the result is abuse,’ tweeted Snowden
  • He was responding to a tweet alerting him about a report that claimed one could buy an individual’s Aadhaar information for a paltry Rs 500
  • UIDAI, the body that runs Aadhaar, denied that the breach allowed access to millions of Aadhaar cardholders’ details

His tweet comes a day after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said there was no breach in the Aadhaar database.

 Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden (Photo courtes
y: witter/@TheSoulfulEMU)

American whistleblower Edward Snowden today took to Twitter to hint that Aadhar can be misused and abused by the Indian Government.

Snowden retweeted CBS journalist Zack Whittaker’s response to a BuzzFeed report on the breach of Aadhaar database in India.

He said, “It is the natural tendency of government to desire perfect records of private lives. History shows that no matter the laws, the result is abuse.”

His tweet comes a day after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said there was no breach in the Aadhaar database.

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It is the natural tendency of government to desire perfect records of private lives. History shows that no matter the laws, the result is abuse. https://twitter.com/zackwhittaker/status/948999538731311105 

Whittaker had earlier said, “ICYMI. India has a national ID database with the private information of nearly 1.2 billion nationals. It’s reportedly been breached. Admin accounts can be made and access can be sold to the database, reports BuzzFeed.”

The UIDAI on Thursday said the Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure.

It termed The Tribune report titled ‘Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details’ as a case of misreporting.

“There has not been any Aadhaar data breach. The Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure,” the UIDAI said in a statement.

This development has come at a time when the Supreme Court is set to begin the final hearing of petitions challenging the legality of Aadhaar programme based on privacy concerns on January 17.

In August 2017, the Supreme Court held that privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India.

(With ANI inputs)

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India Must Block And Destroy Biometric And Delink #Aadhaar

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-Praveen Dalal

Aadhaar is an Orwellian project that is unconstitutional and deserves to be scrapped. But Supreme Court has been dragging its feet and giving unreasonable time to Indian government to force Aadhaar upon maximum number of Indians.

This is despite the fact that Aadhaar has already created serious constitutional, civil liberties and cyber security problems in India. Indian government and Supreme Courtare not interested in rescuing Indians from this precarious situation. Clearly India is heading towards dystopian and totalitarian state and something has to be done right now to counter this position.

We have suggested few strategies to Indians so that they can escape from being digital slaves forever. These include:

(a) Blocking of your biometric at UIDAI website and never using Aadhaar again for KYC or EKYC purposes in future,

(b) Delinking of Aadhaar from all services, whether government or private, where you have seeded the Aadhaar, and

(c) Asking the UIDAI and Supreme Court to delete your biometric database from UIDAI registry and any and all other places where your biometric have been stored.

According to Praveen Dalal, it is pertinent that you must go for biometric blocking and Aadhaar delinking together and not in isolation. Neither blocking of biometric nor delinking of Aadhaar from all services without blocking of the biometric is sufficient in itself.

Once the biometric have been blocked and Aadhaar is delinked from all government and private services, ask UIDAI, Indian government and Supreme Court to destroy your biometric to prevent any future misuse of the same.

Cyber security of Aadhaar and its biometric database is very poor by design and implementation. It is better to safeguard you interests, including your civil liberties, than being sorry in future. So start blocking your biometric at UIDAI, delink Aadhaar from all services and demand for destruction of biometric from all places.

The Constitution of India and your Fundamental Rights empower you to take all these actions. Neither Indian government nor Supreme Court of India can restrict you from doing above mentioned three activities of blocking, delinking and destruction of biometric database of Aadhaar.

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