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Are you being forced to have #Aadhaar #UID ? – Complain SC








Aadhaar (alias UID – unique identity number), is not to be made mandatory for any government service according to repeated Supreme Court orders in September 2013, March 2014 and the latest on 16th March 2015. Recently in the apex court, the judge further reprimanded the central government, “It is your duty to ensure our orders are followed. You can’t say states are not following our order.”

If there are cases of anyone being denied an entitlement or government service because they don’t have aadhaar, please send a letter to the Supreme Court at their official postal address, fax
The Registrar,
Supreme Court of India,
Tilak Marg,
New Delhi-110 201 (India)
PABX NOS.23388922-24,23388942-44,
FAX NOS.23381508,23381584,23384336/23384533/23384447
At the head of the message, it would be wise to mention, “For the kind attention of Hon’ble Mr Justice Chelameswar and companion judges hearing the matter regarding Aadhaar, in the matter of Aruna Roy v. Union of India Writ Petition (Civil) No. 833 of 2013″.
 I will request all of you to also write  complaints in the comments section of the blog post to keep a record of the complaints 
you can also end your complaint to me at- PLEASE DO SEND COPY OF YOUR COMPLAINTS [email protected], after you  send your complaint to Supreme Court
you can also post on FB GROUP – SAY NO TO UID

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Legal expert speaks out against biometrics #UID


Usha Ramanathan, an expert on law and poverty with students at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai on Thursday. Photo: K. V. Srinivasan

The HinduUsha Ramanathan, an expert on law and poverty with students at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai on Thursday. Photo: K. V. Srinivasan

“In India, we have no idea if biometrics will work or not”

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) should be wound up as biometrics has failed miserably in many parts of the country, said eminent legal expert Usha Ramanathan.

Delivering a lecture on ‘Interrogating the UID and the National Population Register,’ Ms. Ramanathan, who has been monitoring and engaging with the UID project, said: “In India, we have no idea if biometrics will work or not.”

“Two to five per cent of people do not have fingerprints that work,” she said, pointing to the study using biometric technology which was tested on 25,000 people by the Biometrics Standards Committee before commencement of the project in 2009.

“It is an anti-people project. I am not willing to have a technology god to oversee me. Companies handling biometric data also have close links with intelligence agencies,” said Ms. Ramanathan.

Following the memorandum of understanding between the Registrar General of India and UIDAI, the National Population Register is breaking the rule in collecting biometrics, she added.

“There is simply too much we do not know. The National Population Register is actually acting illegally. The executive has systematically ignored the order of the Supreme Court. Yet there is hardly any questioning and reporting in the media.”

She stressed the need for learning the principles of civil disobedience when the State sees itself above the law. “There has never been an audit of the system. We need to destroy the system.”

“It is not a unique identity project. It is a unique identification project. It is about helping agencies identify us,” she said.

Chairing the talk and moderating the discussion, eminent lawyer Geeta Ramaseshan, clarified why we need to be wary of the hidden agenda in official schemes for creating a citizens’ roster through invasive data harvesting.

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92 schools upload fake UID of students #WTFnews

92 aided schools under a cloud

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At least 92 aided schools across the state are suspected to have uploaded fake unique identification number of students to either retain the number of teacher posts they already have or increase the posts on the basis of student strength.Based on tip-offs about the tweaking of unique identification (UID) data, the general education department on Friday suspended 25 teachers of Kattachalkuzhi SN upper primary school under Balaramapuram educational sub-district here.

Though the school authorities had claimed student strength of 839, a detailed verification of the UID details furnished by the school to education department proved that a major chunk of them belonged to those aged above 17. Officials could find only 131 schools at the visit during their visit.

The department had completed staff fixation based on the UID data of students, undertaken for the first time this academic year, by July 15. Sources said the department noticed the inflated figures of student strength in some aided schools when some school managers tried to cross-check with officials if they could also add unique identification of outsiders to maintain the required student strength.

“Preliminary reports show that at least 92 aided schools in the state have uploaded fake UIDs on the department website to mislead officials about the actual number of students. We have sought the services of the State IT Mission to cross-check the veracity of UID data furnished,” general education secretary A Shajahan said.

He said the department had instructed school headmistresses to upload the students’ UID details and the task was completed by the headmistress and other teachers. “The misinformation on UIDs amount to a criminal offence of cheating. The government will take exemplary action against all those involved.”

However, there is no provision to take action against school managers as the responsibility of furnishing the details now rests on the headmistress and teachers.

According to Kerala education rules, the number of students in each class can vary from 1 to 50. The government had set the minimum strength of students at 25 in view of the fall in enrolment of students, and recently brought it further down to 15. However, the government has clarified that no government or aided school would be closed down even if there is only one student.

Statistics with the state health department show a dip in childbirths in the state every year. The general education department data put the number of school students at 39.5 lakh in 2010-’11. The number came down to 35.5 lakh in 2014-’15, when the number was estimated as per the UID details.

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Arun Jaitley – My Call Detail Records and A Citizen’s Right to Privacy #Aadhaar #Uid


By  Arun Jaitley

In the past few months I have been closely monitoring a series of news reports which deal with surveillance of my mobile phones. An effort has been made to get access to my call detail records. On two occasions senior officers of the Delhi Police have met me to keep me informed of the progress of the case.

The Facts

On three occasions the Delhi Police has officially asked for the call detail records of the mobile phone which I regularly use. These details have been asked for by the South District, the Central District and the Crime Branch of Delhi Police. The reason for officially seeking the call detail records are both curious and ridiculous. On two occasions for two different periods the Call Detail Records were sought ostensibly on the ground that they were required for a verification in relation to the crime of multiple murders which had been committed in a farmhouse in Delhi. On the third occasion a Head Constable of Delhi Police sought the details and successfully obtained them on the ground that he was returning from the Saket Courts, an anonymous source advised him to check up the call detail records of my telephone number since the same may provide some evidence in relation to a fake currency racket. Obviously, both the pretexts were palpably false. Even for the wildest of imagination there would not be any evidence available in my phone details in relation to these offences. I hardly have any familiarity with the persons involved in these crimes or in relation to the subject matter of the offence.

In another incident the Delhi Police unearthed an effort to a constable of the Police acting at the behest of a private detective agency to get the Call Detail Records of some of the phones which are used by persons around me. Two phones in my name are used by two drivers whom I alternatively use and the third one is used by my son. When I am in my car or at a meeting, I do receive calls on my driver’s numbers. The Delhi Police claims that this attempt was foiled by a vigilant employee of the Service Provider who suspected foul play in these transactions.

The details of these calls being observed through official and illegal channels were for the periods November-December,2012 and January 2013. It was junior officers of the police including the officials at the level of Head Constable and Constables who could get access to these Call Detail Records.

It is obvious that somebody during this period was desperately trying to look for some evidence in my call details. The combined effort has covered the phones which I regularly use and some phones of persons who accompany me which I may incidentally use. Regrettably the Delhi Police believes that each of these efforts are unconnected and there is no pattern in the fact that an attempt was being made both successfully and unsuccessfully to monitor the persons with whom I am in touch with during the critical period. I find it difficult to accept this explanation of the Delhi Police that it is unable to find out the master-mind behind this operation and it is merely co-incidental that so many activities were taking place at the same time to get at my Call details.

The Delhi Police would have me believe that these were unconnected developments. The inability of the Delhi Police to find out the master-mind behind this operation does not mean that there is no master-mind. Either the investigation is extremely incompetent to discover the identity of the master-mind or the Delhi Police finds it embarrassing to name the master-mind. My guess is still wide open. This could be an out-sourced operation to a Government agency or a private rogue operation.

The Effect

My object in raising this issue is not to play a victimhood card. I raise this issue because some larger questions of public interest are involved.

Firstly, every citizen in India has a right to privacy. His right to pirivacy is an inherent aspect of his personal liberty. Interference in the right to privacy is an interference in his personal liberty by a process which is not fair, just or reasonable. A person’s Call Detail Records can throw up details of several transactions. In the case of an average citizen it can reflect on his relationships. In the case of a professional or a business person it can reflect on his financial transactions. In the case of a journalist it can reveal the identity of his sources. In the case of a politician it can reveal the identity of the person with whom he has regular access. Every person has ‘a right to be left alone’. In a liberal society there is no place for those who peep into the private affairs of individuals. No one has a right to know who another communicates with him. The nature of communication, the identity of persons being communicated with and frequency of communications would be a serious breach of privacy. If Constables and Head Constables of police officially (even though on false pretexts ) or unofficially can get access to Call Detail Records of an individual (in this case Leader of Opposition in one of the Houses of Parliament) the personal liberty of an individual would be in peril.

In the case of a Member of Parliament, this raises an additional issue. A Member of Parliament like a media person receives information from various sources. It is in public interest that the identity of the sources is to be concealed. Most scams are exposed by insiders. If identity of sources are revealed there is a danger of the sources drying up and public interest suffering. A Member of Parliament has several undefined privileges. Nobody has a right to know who communicates with him. If those who communicate with him are exposed nobody would be willing to provide information to a Member of Parliament. This will be detrimental to public interest. If the privileged phone records of the Leader of Opposition can be accessed so easily, one shudders to think as to what would happen to an ordinary citizen.

This incident throws up another legitimate fear. We are now entering the era of the Adhaar number. The Government has recently made the existence of the Adhaar number as a condition precedent for undertaking several activities; from registering marriages to execution of property documents. Will those who encroach upon the affairs of others be able to get access to bank accounts and other important details by breaking into the system? If this ever becomes possible the consequences would be far messier.
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Supreme Court Must Immediately Declare Aadhaar As Unconstitutional #UID



Praveen Dalal

Any Government holds the Public Resources in a “Fiduciary Capacity” as a Trustee for the future generation. This is the gist of the Public Trust Doctrine that is frequently applied by Courts around the World while dealing with Environment and natural resources related issues. Can this Doctrine be applied to “Public Money”? I believe it should be made applicable to the hard earned Public Money as well that is given to our Government in the form of various Taxes.

Can Politicians misappropriate Public Money through corrupt means and deposit the same in foreign banks out of the reach of Indian Government? Can Indian Capital be kept out of the reach of Indian Government so that it is not used for Development and Reforms in India? Can Indian Government spend enormous financial resources upon Projects that have no Parliamentary Oversight and are actually violating the protections conferred by the Indian Constitutions?

We all know that the answers to these questions cannot be anything except No. Still all of these Evils and Corrupt Practices are happening in India. When the latest BJP led Government was formed, the Supreme Court of India directed it to Constitute and Notify a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe Black Money deposited in Foreign Jurisdictions. The same we promptly done by the Narendra Modi led Government and I really appreciate this “Alacrity and Commitment” of Modi. Now the SIT has been constituted and it has already started functioning.

On the one hand India has recovered $310 million from Finmeccanica helicopter deal while on the other hand a sum of Rs 2,039 crore has been granted in the budget for the Aadhaar Project. India terminated the helicopter deal in January 2014 citing a breach of integrity after allegations of bribery emerged in Italy against executives at Finmeccanica’s helicopter unit. Surprisingly, the Modi Government did not find anything wrong with the Aadhaar Project that has already consumed thousand of Crore of hard earned Public Money without any Parliamentary Oversight, Transparency, and Accountability.

Those who have wasted Crore of hard earned Public Money upon the Illegal and Unconstitutional Aadhaar project must be made answerable to Indian Courts as soon as possible instead of granting further funds to the Aadhaar. This is giving a “Negative Signal” that “Constitutional Norms” are just Paper Words and the Powerful are simply beyond the reach of “Rule of Law”. This is also giving an indication that Politicians are beyond the Scrutiny and Reach of Indian Courts. This is a “Dangerous Trend” that has to be stopped immediately by the Supreme Court of India.

The only solaced for the Modi Government is a promise to formulate Legal Framework for the Aadhaar Project. However, this promise must not face the similar fate as witnessed during the Congress led Government. Even if the Modi Government succeeds in formulating a Law for Aadhaar Project, the same must be Just, Fair and Reasonable. It should not be of the type suggested by the Congress Government as that would not pass the “Test of Constitutionally” before the Supreme Court of India.

The Aadhaar Project is suffering from many “Vices and Illegalities”. These include Civil Liberties ViolationsUnconstitutional E-Surveillance IssuesData security and Cyber Security Issues, Compulsory Nature of Aadhaar, Unaccountable Intelligence Agencies,Foreign E-Surveillance ThreatsTelecom Security IssuesIntegration with Surveillance projects like NATGRIDUnconstitutional Biometrics Collections, etc. All these aspects make the Aadhaar Project an Unconstitutional Project that was required to be Scrappedby the Modi Government.

The Illegality of Aadhaar Project has already been Challenged before the Indian Courts. The Supreme Court of India has even held that the Aadhaar Number/Card cannot be made Compulsory for availing Public Services in India. The Supreme Court has alsoprohibited UIDAI from sharing Biometric Data with Indian Government Agencies without Data Owner’s Consent. This may have prompted the Modi Government to suggest Legislation for Aadhaar.

Among all this Chaos and Illegalities one this is very clear. The current allocation of Public Funds to Aadhaar Project by the Modi Government has been done at a time when there is neither a Parliamentary Oversight nor any Techno Legal Measures to protect Civil Liberties of Indians. Of course, this is a mere allocation at this time and it would be a totally different story if no fund is utilised till the “Constitutional Roadblocks” are removed by the Modi Government. Till that time the funds must be kept intact.

As per media reports, the UIDAI is planning to spend precious 30 Crore of hard earned Public Money on “Convincing Indians” that Aadhaar is a “Welfare Scheme Project”. This is absurd to even suggest much less accepted as Aadhaar has no “Welfare Elements” attached to it whatsoever. From its present form one can easily deduce that Aadhaar Project is a Draconian E-Surveillance Project that has been launched along with other E-Surveillance Projects like Central Monitoring System (CMS), Internet Spy System Network and Traffic Analysis System (NETRA), etc. The fact is that Indian Government, Aadhaar Project and UIDAI are hiding truth from Indians.

Obviously, the Modi Government would approach the Supreme Court of India to make the Aadhaar Number/Card Compulsory for availing Government Services in India. The scenario has already changed in India as Government Departments are insisting upon use of Aadhaar as the “Exclusive Identity” for availing various Schemes and Services from them. They are making Aadhaar Mandatory despite the “Clear Directions” of Supreme Court. This is not only violation of various statutory provisions but is also a “Contempt of Court” as the Supreme Court’s order is binding upon all Government Authorities.

No Government Agency, Authority or Department can dare to flout Supreme Court’s order unless it has backing of Indian Government either directly or indirectly. If Government Departments and Authorities are insisting upon Aadhaar despite Supreme Court orders and the Indian Government is not taking any “Strict Action” against such Government Departments and Authorities, this is a clear indication that the Modi Government is not interested in following the orders of Indian Supreme Court regarding Aadhaar Project.

It is high time for Indian Supreme Court to declare the Aadhaar Project Unconstitutional and scrap the same till it is in conformity with “Constitutional Norms”. It is equally imperative for the Modi Government to not waste even a single Rupee upon Aadhaar till it is clear of various “Infirmities and Illegalities”.


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#India – Infringing Privacy for the Other 5 Billion #Aadhaar #UID

An Indian villager looks at an Iris scan

Move over, mobile phones. There’s a new technological fix for poverty: biometric identification. Speaking at the World Bank on April 24, Nandan Nilekani, director of India’s universal identification scheme, promised that the project will be “transformational.” It “uses the most sophisticated technology … to solve the most basic of development challenges.” The massive ambition, known as Aadhaar, aims to capture fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans of 1.2 billion residents, with the assumption that a national identification program will be a key ingredient to “empower poor and underprivileged residents.” The World Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, effusively summed up the promise as “just stunning.”

Although few can match Nilekani’s grand scale, Aadhaar is but one example of the development sector’s growing fascination with technologies for registering, identifying, and monitoring citizens. Systems that would be controversial—if not outright rejected—in the West because of the threat they pose to civil liberties are being implemented in many developing countries, often with the support of Western donors. The twin goals of development and security are being used to justify a bewildering array of initiatives, including British-funded biometric voting technology in Sierra Leone, U.N. surveillance drones in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and biometric border controls in Ghana supported by the World Bank.

This vigorous adoption of technologies for collecting, processing, tracking, profiling, and managing personal data—in short, surveillance technologies—risks centralizing an increasing amount of power in the hands of government authorities, often in places where democratic safeguards and civil society watchdogs are limited. While these initiatives may be justified in certain cases, rarely are they subject to a rigorous assessment of their effects on civil liberties or political dissent. On the contrary, they often seek to exploit the lack of scrutiny: Nilekani recommended in another recent speech that biometric proponents work “quickly and quietly” before opposition can form. The sensitivity of the information gathered in aid programs is not lost on intelligence agencies: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Mazzetti recently revealed that the Pentagon funded a food aid program in Somalia for the express purpose of gathering details on the local population. Even legitimate aid programs now maintain massive databases of personal information, from household names and locations to biometric information.

Humanitarian organizations, development funders, and governments have a responsibility to critically assess these new forms of surveillance, consult widely, and implement safeguards such as data protection, judicial oversight, and the highest levels of security. In much of the world, these sorts of precautions are sorely lacking: For example, despite the success of information technology in Africa, only 10 countries on the continent have some form of data protection law on the books (and even those rarely have the capacity or will to enforce them).

Kenya is a good example of how these programs can go wrong. In the country’s recent election, a costly biometric voting scheme flopped, adding widespread uncertainty to an already fragile situation. The problems were manifold, from biometric scanners that couldn’t recognize thumbprints to batteries that failed and servers that crashed. As journalist Michela Wrong put it, “almost none of it worked.” With limited resources, why support expensive and often ineffective technologies like biometric voting when traditional systems often suffice? While biometrics could help clean up electoral rolls, they may very well serve to obfuscate the electoral process, as information is passed through proprietary applications and technologies, closed to public scrutiny and audit.

But the worries in Kenya extend beyond technological failure. Like many low-income countries, Kenya has historically lacked a robust program of birth registration, making public health work notoriously difficult. It also stymies the provision of education services and cash transfers to vulnerable populations. To rectify this, the Kenyan state has sought to enroll all adults in a biometric national identification scheme that aims to interoperate with various other databases, including the tax authority, financial institutions, and social security programs. According to the director of this Integrated Population Registration System, George Anyango, the government now has “the 360 degree view of any citizen above the age of 18 years.” The Orwellian language is particularly worrisome given Kenya’s lack of data protection requirements and history of political factionalism, including the ethnic violence in the aftermath of the 2007 election that resulted in the death of more than 1,000 Kenyans.

The Aadhaar project in India—a country with a history of ethnic unrest and social segregation, widespread political and bureaucratic corruption, and with no effective legislative protection of privacy—should raise similar, magnified fears. Furthermore, it’s doubtful the program could help bring about the social equality it promises. Proponents of these state registration schemes argue that a lack of ID is a key reason why the poor remain marginalized, but they risk misdiagnosing the symptom for the cause. The poor are marginalized not simply because they lack an ID, but rather because of a complex history of discriminatory political, economic, and social structures. In some cases a biometric identity scheme may alter those, but only if coupled with broader, more difficult reforms.

One of Aadhaar’s biggest promises is the opportunity to open bank accounts (which require identification). Yet, poor, marginalized Indians, even with an ID, find formal banks to be unfriendly and difficult to join. For example, the anthropologist Ursula Rao found that the homeless in India—even after registering for Aadhaar—were blocked from banking, most frequently for lack of proper addresses, but more fundamentally because, as she notes, biometric identification “cannot establish trust, teach the logic of banking, or provide incentives for investing in the formal economy.” Bank managers remain suspicious and exclusionary, even if an identity project is inclusive. Without broader reforms—including rules for who may or may not access identity details—novel identification infrastructures will become tools of age-old discrimination.

Another, more practical drawback is that biometric technology is particularly ill-suited for individuals who have spent years in manual labor, working in tough conditions where their fingerprints wear down or they may even lose full fingers or limbs. Even with small authentication error rates—say, the 1.7 percent that recent estimates from Aadhaar suggest—the number of failures in a population the size of India’s can be enormous. Aadhaar has already enrolled 240 million people, with plans to reach all residents. You do the math.

The growth of these systems is due in part to the lack of public education and consultation, as well as the paucity of technical expertise to advise on the risks and pitfalls of surveillance technologies. But certainly the international donors and humanitarian organizations that support these initiatives have a responsibility to critically assess and build in safeguards for these technologies. Given the enormity of the challenge facing these organizations, it is perhaps easy not to prioritize issues like privacy and security of personal data, but the same arguments were once made against gender considerations and environmental protections in development. Aid programs that involve databases of personal information—especially of those most vulnerable and marginalized—must adopt stringent policies and practices relating to the collection, use, and sharing of that data. Best practices should include privacy impact assessments and consider the scope for “privacy by design” methodologies.

As the rhetoric around Aadhaar makes clear, the promise of a quick technical solution to intractable social problems is alive and well. However, it is time to recognize that human development involves the protection of civil liberties and individual freedoms, and not blindly rush into the creation of surveillance states in the name of development and poverty alleviation. Donors and aid organizations need to remember that the other 5 billion deserve privacy, too.

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Aadhaar-enabled DBT is more demanding than DBT #UID

 Reetika Khera
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Interview with associate professor, humanities and social sciences department, IIT Delhi

Manavi Kapur  |  <>New Delhi 

 Last Updated at 21:11 IST

The future of the Aadhaar scheme is uncertain under the new Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre.Reetika Khera, an economist and associate professor in the humanities and social sciences department at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, spoke to Manavi Kapur about the fate of Aadhaar and the possible alternatives to it.

Was Aadhaar necessary for the transfer of welfare benefits?

The public debate has routinely confused different ideas — Aadhaar, biometrics, cash transfers and direct benefit transfers (DBT). A recent study (by Muralidharan, Niehaus and Sukhtankar) found that biometric smartcards  improve efficiency of payments, but the media reported it as a success of Aadhaar!

Aadhaar (or UID), is the unique number generated by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Cash transfers refer to the form  of the transfer – that is cash as opposed to in kind. Think of the public distribution system – the government can either provide subsidised food (an “in-kind” transfer) or it can give cash so people can buy the food themselves (a “cash” transfer). Cash transfer programmes include government schemes such as old age pensions, maternity entitlements and so on, which are very welcome.

On DBT, there is more confusion. For some (like me), DBT is just another word for electronic bank transfers – payments through accounts linked to CORE banking (which is the norm for us). For others, DBT is actually “Aadhaar-enabled DBTs” –electronic transfers plus linking (or “seeding”) bank accounts and databases of welfare beneficiaries using the Aadhaar. For yet others, DBT is the new proposed design for transferring subsidies: the subsidy (on, say, kerosene) is credited into your account and kerosene is bought and sold at the market price.

I think of DBT as electronic payments. This move is mostly very welcome as it provides a huge safeguard against corruption. The only drawback is that access to banks and post offices linked to CORE banking is still quite thin in rural areas.

What are the loopholes in the Aadhar card and UID number system, both as an identification mechanism and as a tool for distributing welfare schemes, in its present form?
The main problem is that the benefits of using UID for welfare schemes were always exaggerated. For instance, the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme  was premised on the belief that wages are paid in cash (which is prone to corruption). In fact, since 2009, payments are routed through bank and post office accounts.  Wage payments through banks with CORE-banking provide as good a safeguard against corruption as Aadhaar can. Post office payments remain vulnerable to corruption and the solution lies in modernising post offices, for example providing CORE banking.

Where did Aadhaar fail in DBT that the government wants it removed? Why would it have not worked? Is it merely politics driving this decision?

For DBT you need all beneficiaries to have a core banking account. That is where the focus should be — expanding the modern banking sector, especially core banking in rural areas. DBTs do not need Aadhaar.

What the government had in mind when it spoke of DBT is actually “Aadhaar-enabled DBT” to transfer cash or subsidy. That requires three things: a modern banking sector to which beneficiaries have access; Aadhaar number for all beneficiaries; and seeding bank accounts with Aadhaar. Only when all three are in place, can Aadhaar-enabled DBTs proceed. Eight months after DBT was launched, 56 per cent of beneficiaries had a bank account; 25 per cent had an account and Aadhaar; but only 9.6 per cent had all three. This caused havoc — it made Aadhaar compulsory for cash transfers, leading to exclusion on a massive scale. For example, many elderly people stopped getting their pension in Jharkhand. Other Aadhaar pilots have also failed — NREGA payments (in Jharkhand) and LPG subsidy transfers (Karnataka).

Aadhaar-enabled DBT is a more demanding system than DBT, without any added benefits. From the point of view of DBT, the removal of Aadhaar is a welcome step. But if Aadhaar is going to be replaced by a more sinister project, the debate is far from over.

The data already collected will be vulnerable to misuse. What are the ethical and logistical challenges in collection and storage of such private biological parameters?

There are numerous counts on which objections have been raised against the Aadhaar project — civil liberties, data security, data mining, privacy, lack of any legal safeguards and so on. Important among them is the creation of a centralised database of residents that could/would potentially be linked to other databases, such as those created by “security agencies”. In this sense, UID andNational Population Register (NPR) create an infrastructure that can be misused.

Let me give one example of the legal vacuum in which this project is operating. Hearing a petition against UID, the Supreme Court learnt that there is no law, no contract; further, biometrics (fingerprints, iris scans) are classified as “sensitive information” by the rules framed under the IT Act 2000 and these cannot be handed around.

What are the other repercussions of scrapping the Aadhaar scheme?
The scrapping of Aadhaar, if it happens, is bound to raise questions of the expense incurred on it. There are at least two ways to look at this. One, UIDAI did work that would eventually have been done by the Census office for the NPR. Two, one cannot throw good money after bad money. To the extent that the UID project was a waste of money, it is better to cut our losses now than to pour more money into the project.

Can the existing Aadhaar be modified for bona fide use? If not, what is a possible alternative?

Aadhaar was clear that it was for all residents. NPR, however, is based on citizenship. That is the real danger of merging Aadhaar with NPR. It will become an exercise in harassing poor people. If registration in NPR is made compulsory, and people are required to prove their citizenship, it will formally create a category of “second class” citizens. It is not difficult to guess who will fall into that category.

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How Rajnath Singh is wrong about Biometric NPR and the Prime Minister is right #UID

Opposed by Narendra Modi, Biometric National Population Register (NPR) is aadhaar by another name


How Rajnath Singh is wrong about Biometric NPR and the Prime Minister is right 


No lessons being learnt from misuse of electoral database and census data by Big Data companies

 By-  Gopal Krishna

In a letter written to Minister of Home Affairs (MHA), Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) has submitted that Shri Narendra Modi had opposed biometric National Population Register (NPR) in his letter to Dr Manmohan Singh on October 6, 2011. It has argued that MHA’s support for 12 digit biometric aadhaar number generating NPR makes Indians worse than prisoners, violates Citizenship Act, Census Act and constitutional rights.


Isn’t there a compelling reason for MHA, RGI and all the concerned ministers and officials in the government to read the letter of Shri Narendra Modi to understand why he had opposed biometric NPR not? How can MHA deprive itself of the wisdom of Shri Modi without facing any consequence? If this government does not reconcile its actions in the light of Shri Modi’s letter, it will tantamount to breach of citizens’ trust. It will set a dangerous and unhealthy precedent and in future no one will believe even the written words of political leaders.


The MHA’s must explain as how is India’s NPR for identity cards different from Identity Cards that has been abandoned in UK. There is a need to guard against ID Card cartels and learn from the fate of such databases in Egypt, Pakistan and Greece. It must set up a committee to examine why countries like China, Australia and France abandoned such ID projects.


CFCL had appeared before t he Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance that examined the National Identification Authority of India Bill to legalize and legitimize aadhaar scheme. The PSC endorsed the concerns about national security and citizens rights and questioned and trashed the scheme.


The parliamentary committee had categorically raised question about the absence of legal mandate for biometric data collection. The parliamentary committee’s report observes, “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information of individuals without amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 as well as the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by Parliament.”


Notably, the PSC’s report revealed that “Bharatiya – Automated Finger Print Identification System (AFSI), was launched in January, 2009, being funded by the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, for collection of biometric information of the people of the country.” But admittedly the same is not being used by UIDAI because according to the Government, “The quality, nature and manner of collection of biometric data by other biometric projects may not be of the nature that can be used for the purpose of the aadhaar scheme and hence it may not be possible to use the fingerprints captured under the Bhartiya-AFSI project.” It is bizarre as why the parliamentary committee did not question AFSI program of Ministry of Communications and Information Technology headed by A Raja. How can this program be allowed to continue without “amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955”?


Despite such observation of the parliamentary committee, MHA’s support for NPR is quite inexcusable.


Besides the Ministry of Planning in their written reply stated, “UIDAI is adopting a multiple registrar approach and the Registrar General of India (RGI) will be one of the Registrars of the UIDAI. To synergize the two exercises, an Inter Ministerial Coordination Committee has been set up to minimize duplication. The UIDAI is making all efforts to synergize with National Population Register (NPR) exercise.” This recorded reply illustrates that NDA government’s proposal for NPR and UPA government’s aadhaar is simply the same rose with different names.


It is quite clear from the conceptual design that aadhaar and NPR is one and the same. This feigned ignorance seems to demonstrate the collusion between BJP and Congress on biometrically profiling Indians.  Admittedly, biometric data is a property. It is not surprising that property dealers of all shapes and shades are visible on the horizon.


The examination of the terms of reference of UIDAI reveals it all. The entire political class and citizenry 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 60 crore for coverage under aadhaar and the rest under National Population Register (NPR) which also generates Aadhaar number. 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 has been staged to hoodwink unsuspecting Indians.


If there was still any doubt about the oneness of NPR and aadhaar, the report of Press Trust of India of January 30, 2014 revealed the proposal of the Planning Commission to allow UIDAI to start enrolments in areas other than 18 states and Union Territories allocated to it. The Commission’s proposal is based on the view that this is required to speed up collection of biometrics details of residents and for issuing them Aadhaar numbers as well as a National Multi-purpose Identity Cards (NMIC) based on NPR. It was reported, “The Commission discussed the proposal with Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Ministry of Home Affairs. They have agreed that UIDAI can be allowed to enrol in some states where they are collecting biometrics details of resident, to speed up enrolments.”

It may be noted that the states and union territories where RGI is enrolling residents and collecting their biometrics details under NPR are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep. Notably, RGI is also enrolling residents in Udupi, Gadag, Uttara Kannada, Haveri, Davangere, Bangalore rural, Chikkabalapur and Kodagu districts of Karnataka. So far 14 crore Indians have been enrolled under NPR.


UIDAI has been enrolling residents in Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Tripura. It claims that so far it has enrolled 63 crore Indians.


Both NPR and aadhaar are online databases by design.  

Now that it has been established that surveillance agencies of USA, UK and their allies have dismantled firewalls created for online privacy and encrypted Internet communications, the new government must dismantle the illegitimate biometric database to undo the damage to done to Indians by the previous government.


In its letter CFCL said, “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” It added, “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.”


During the election campaign, BJP opposed biometric aadhaar in strongest words. Now it is apparent that the MHA has accepted aadhaar as irreversible and as a face saving stance it will have citizens believe that it will not accept biometric aadhaar but will gladly do so if it is mentioned as biometric NPR unmindful of Shri Modi’s opposition to it.   


The technological drive to ensure mastery over human beings is not merely a by-product of a faulty political economy but also of a world view which believes in the absolute control. It has become more and more apparent that genocides, ecodisasters and ehtnocides are but the underside of corrupt sciences and psychopathic technologies wedded to new secular hierarchies, which have reduced major civilization to the status of a set of empty rituals, observes Ashish Nandy in his book The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism. 

The lessons from database based genocides are part of recent world history should not be forgotten in the face of a large section of complicit and partisan corporate media especially those that regularly received advertisements from UIDAI and its partners.


The MHA’s initiative for biometric NPR reveals that no lessons are being learnt from misuse of online electoral database and census data by Big Data companies. The companies like FourthLion Technologies and Modak Analytics have collected and analysed electoral data in the absence of any data protection law.  The latter analysed 18 tera bytes of data and built India’s first Big Data-based Electoral Data Repository system and vetted about data related to 81 crore people to help our client understand the electorate on a wide variety of aspects such as caste, gender, age and economic status. We used all the publicly available data provided by Election Commission and Census figures.

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Aadhaar Data Minefield Sends Warning Bells Ringing #UID

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By Yatish Yadav

Published: 08th June 2014 01:58 AM


NEW DELHI:  Your biometric and biographic data collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for the 12-digit unique Aadhaar number could well be at Fort Meade, the headquarters of the US spy agency NSA.

Intelligence agencies that had forewarned the government two years ago about the vulnerability of Aadhaar data, owing to involvement of foreign players, are livid over the latest NSA disclosures that the US was prying on the biometric database.

Needless to say, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is in a tizzy. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s recent revelation that the American intelligence agency was covertly collecting biometric data of people from across the world has them worried sick.

Central intelligence agencies had warned the government about a possible security breach in Aadhaar, which is considered the world’s largest biometric database.

The Aadhaar programme under the UIDAI involved several foreign vendors and private companies for storage and collection of individual data, including iris scan and fingerprints. In 2012, the IB warned the state about loopholes in Aadhaar, but the government continued with the enrolment process, sidestepping security concerns.

The NSA top secret documents leaked last week point to the covert operation. “Identity Intelligence is exploiting pieces of information that are unique to an individual to track, exploit and identify targets…,” the papers stated.

Three types of data is being mined by the NSA — biometric, biographic and contextual. Biometric data shows an individual’s physical or behavioural traits like face, iris, fingerprints and voice, etc. Biographic data gives details of life history, including address, school and profession, while contextual data throws light on one’s travel history and financial bank details.

Although, the US Government had earlier scrapped Aadhaar-like project for its residents, it surprisingly mounted covert operations to infiltrate biometric database in other countries. The US decision to not allow biometric profiling of residents was followed by countries like China, Australia and the UK.

The domestic intelligence agencies raised the contentious provision in the contract agreement that allows foreign vendors to keep the biometric data for the next seven years, making it easy prey for the NSA.

“The contract agreement signed by the UIDAI with foreign vendors is absurd. Private companies can easily share it with the US spy agency. We have seen how they arm twist private players to gain foothold in their server,” a top intelligence official said, adding the UIDAI also had arrangements with certain private firms for technology assistance.

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#India – Biometrics for Social Protection Programmes Risk Violating Human Rights of the Poor #UID

  • Author(s): Usha Ramanathan

Biometrics Use for Social Protection Programmes in India Risk Violating Human Rights of the PoorThis contribution is published as part of the UNRISD resource platform for practitioners and policy makers Linking Social Protection and Human Rights. This part of the platform is a collection of expert contributions and commentary from advocates, practitioners, policy makers and academics sharing practical guidance and thought-provoking commentary on their experiences with a human rights approach to social protection. Please share your thoughts on this article in the comments space below.

Usha Ramanathan is an independent, internationally recognized law researcher working on the jurisprudence of law, poverty and rights.

Biometrics and the violation of human rights

Suddenly, biometric data is being gathered everywhere and from everybody by all manner of agencies. The idea of parting with fingerprints and iris impressions has been marketed as a means to more efficiently and surely deliver services to the poor. This, and the threat of exclusion from a range of services if a person is not biometrically enrolled, has placed the weight of such projects on the shoulders of the poor.

Biometric data is sensitive personal data. In May 2010, in a document titled Aadhaar: communicating to a billion, a team of Indian industry leaders who helped script a marketing strategy for the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)1 said, in a section on “Mental barriers to enrolment”:

      “There is likely to be a level of mistrust and inertia, given the track record of government programmes across time;… providing one’s thumbprint has a strong connotation of attestation by an individual. To do so for


    (the brand name for the unique identification number, or UID), without fully understanding its meaning, may be a mental barrier for some to overcome; people may perceive providing the data as something that makes them readily accessible for abuse by the government; privacy concerns regarding the security and usage of data; giving out personal information could be a barrier to some, though it is likely to be a smaller concern area.”

These concerns were approached by the state as hurdles to be crossed, rather than issues to be addressed. They identified partners who could help them sell the idea of parting with biometric and demographic information and giving it to the state and to industry which included: “advertising agency; media agency for mass media; market research agencies; public relations; call centres”. It is significant that the UIDAI set out its mandate as “(issuing) UID numbers to all residents in the country” while promoting the project as having the “basic objective” of “improved benefits service delivery, especially to the poor and marginalized sections of society”. The poor thus provide the justification for the larger project of databasing a whole population.

Corruption, leakage in the delivery of services, welfare fraud and slippages in the last mile are offered in explanation for why each individual needs to be distinctly identified. There is an inherent suspicion of people accessing services and welfare benefits, which is exaggerated by the preoccupation with reducing subsidies. The language that is developing around the use of biometrics in service delivery is of weeding out ‘ghost beneficiaries’, ‘eliminating duplicates’ and removing the ‘undeserving’ from the lists. This may seem an odd way to articulate an agenda for inclusion, and so it is. What it does do is require every recipient of services or benefits, time after time, to prove that they are worthy of welfare, and to demonstrate that they have an entitlement in a way that technology recognizes.

Uncertain technology

Even as biometric databasing projects take off in different parts of the globe, the technology is still uncertain. This is a narrative of the Indian experience.

In December 2009, a committee set up by the UIDAI reported that 2-5% of the 25,000 persons whose fingerprints they had harvested to perform a pilot “did not have biometric records. Missing biometrics is a licence to commit fraud.” So they suggested that iris biometric technology, which was beginning to emerge from the proprietary domain, could be combined with fingerprint records to try to help achieve greater accuracy in de-duplication.2

Early in 2010, the UIDAI issued a Notice inviting applications for hiring of biometrics consultant. This document carried a candid admission that there was a total absence of evidence about biometrics in the developing world.

    “There is a lack of a sound study that documents the accuracy achievable on Indian demographics (i.e., larger percentage of rural population) and in Indian environmental conditions (i.e., extremely hot and humid climates and facilities without air-conditioning).” And, “we could not find any credible study assessing the achievable accuracy in any of the developing countries. UIDAI has performed some preliminary assessment of quality of fingerprint data from Indian rural demographics and environments and the results are encouraging. The ‘quality’ assessment of fingerprint data is not sufficient to fully understand the achievable de-duplication accuracy.”

Yet, the decision had already been made that photographs, fingerprints and iris data would be collected, and numbers generated after ‘de-duplication’, relying entirely on biometrics.

In November 2011, the Director General of the UIDAI said in an interview: “Capturing fingerprints, especially of manual labourers, is a challenge. The quality of fingerprints is bad because of the rough exterior of fingers caused by hard work, and this poses a challenge for later authentication.” Reports on authentication published by the UIDAI in March and September 2012 abound with the uncertainties surrounding biometrics.

This, then, is an experiment with the entire population as the laboratory, in which the poor and the undocumented will have more to lose than the rest.

Whose transparency?

Biometric identification systems are not about identity, but about identification. Biometrics are stored and authenticated by an agency, and claims that persons make about who they are will be determined by technology and the person who wields the technology. The individual has no control over this process.

The identifier that is generated and seeded in multiple databases acts as a bridge between various silos of information. When several databases open up to each other, profiling, tracking, tagging and surveillance is rendered easy, and the individual becomes transparent to those who can access the system. This is an inversion of what right to information movements have been attempting to achieve in many parts of the world in recent times. In India, Parliament passed the Right to Information Act in 2005, pressured by a civil society movement that was demanding transparency and accountability from the government. The biometric identification project turns this on its head, attempting to make every individual transparent to the state and to private companies that use this identity platform.

In justification of the biometric identification project, a statement that is being passed off as axiomatic is this: that the poor have no interest in privacy; that privacy is an elite concern. It is food, housing, health services and education that they want, runs the justification. Yet, as far as is known, no one asked the poor for their opinion. Nor has any study been done to assess the value of privacy to the poor. Nor have constitutional positions—and whether rights that are fundamental to all persons can be waived on their behalf, or waived at all, or whether some rights and entitlements can be secured only if others are relinquished—been addressed.

Tagging, tracking, profiling the poor

It is no secret that the poor often find themselves in a twilight zone of legality. This is not because the poor are criminal, but because the law keeps them there. That the law in India, even today, treats a person who is without visible means of subsistence as a beggar, and a ‘beggar’ may be held in custody for periods ranging from one to ten years and beyond, is symptomatic of how the poor are viewed. Systems that tag, track, profile the poor and place them under surveillance have consequences beyond the denial of services, and enter into the arena of criminalizing poverty.

Technological determination of claims to identity, and of presence in various databases, is not only about privacy, but about personal security too, especially in relation to the state.

It is also about exclusion where either the technology fails, or where persons exercise their judgment and decide that they do not wish to be databased and transparent to the state and those controlling the data, or where those controlling the technology refuse recognition. In India, the language of voluntary enrolment has already given way to mandatory enrolment and seeding the UID number to get food in the public distribution system, to get work, to get cooking gas, to receive scholarships and pensions, to open and operate bank accounts, to register marriages, in rental agreements and sale deeds and wills. The poor have little choice in the matter.

Whether biometrics can uniquely identify is not the point. The point is that the regular run of people will feel watched and tracked and tagged and profiled, and that will have consequences for the way in which they constitute their politics and its expression. The vulnerability of poverty exacerbates this threat to freedom. Of course there will be someone somewhere who will say that the poor have no use for freedom.

1 The Unique Identification Authority of India was set up by notification dated 28 January 2009 to construct, maintain and own a database of residents. The number it generates is the Universal Identification number (UID), and its brand name is aadhaar. For more information about UIDAI and a collection of documents and reports see:

2 A process by which the fingerprints and iris impressions gathered during enrolment will be checked against the database that is being developed; this is expected to weed out the possibility of one person receiving more than one UID number through multiple enrolments.

ABOUT THE AUTHORUsha Ramanathan is an independent, internationally recognized law researcher working on the jurisprudence of law, poverty and rights. She writes and speaks on issues that include the Bhopal Gas Disaster, mass displacement, eminent domain, civil liberties, beggary, criminal law, custodial institutions, the environment, and judicial process. She has been tracking, and engaging with, the UID project (the Indian Government’s plan to issue citizens with a unique identification number) and has written and debated extensively on the subject. Her work draws heavily upon non-governmental experience in its encounters with the state, a six year stint with a law journal as reporter from the Supreme Court, and engaging with matters of public policy. Some of her writings can be found at the IELRC website. She studied law at Madras University, the University of Nagpur and Delhi University.

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