Rethink Aadhaar cautiously welcomes the Sri Krishna Committee White Paper which has been shared for public comments and inputs. This marks an important first step in a more transparent and accountable pre-legislative process.

Rethink Aadhaar wrote to the Srikrishna committee on the 5 November 2017 expressing its concern with the constitution of the committee. 22 concerned citizens from across the country signed this letter including, ex-Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, AP Shah, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, Privacy Petitioners, Maj Gen (retd) SG Vombatkere, Prof Anupam Saraph and Aruna Roy, Senior Advocates Prashant Bhushan and Indira Jaising, former Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Prof Tarlochan Sastry and Prof Jagdeep Chokkhar of the Association for Democratic Reforms among several Information activists.

The Srikrishna committee was constituted on 31 July 2017 to identify issues related to data protection and to formulate a Data Protection Bill.

Our earlier letter highlighted the fact that the Committee the present composition of the committee is problematic insofar as all its members, except Justice Srikrishna, have pronounced professional and personal views in support of the Aadhaar program and its extension into areas that it was not designed for.

We are disappointed that the composition of the committee remains unchanged. 

Experts who have expressed independent and critical views on Aadhaar have not been co-opted by the committee. This could still be possible in the future and we hope the Committee will keep this in mind.

A mandatory and coercive Aadhaar project has led to millions of Indian citizens being enrolled into the world’s largest biometric identification project.

Issues of surveillance, welfare, national security, and Private companies and their access to this data is becoming crucial. Massive data collection proliferates unregulated.

On a first and rapid reading of the report we find that the White Paper expresses deep caution when dealing with data – its collection use and storage. We do not think that the Aadhaar project will survive this increased scrutiny and caution. It is in fact clear that the Aadhaar project, since its inception, has already violated many principles expressed in the white paper. 

The deliberations of the Srikrishna Committee are vital for our collective future and the shape of the Data Protection law. The white paper is a first step in what we hope is increased transparency in these deliberations. As we read this document and begin writing our suggestions and responses we hope that many people will join in with these deliberations. It is important that we all engage with this process as it shapes our digital futures.

Link to the Government of India white paper on a data protection legislative framework in India,  inviting comments by December 31, 2017: