By Tarun Nangia – NEW DELHI
Last Updated: 26th August 2013 09:56 AM
A former defence scientist along with a group of social activists have approached the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC)asking why the information pertaining to the contracts signed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) with the foreign multinational companies, to collect the personal data of millions of Indians for the Aadhaar scheme, could not be disclosed under the RTI.
“UIDAI claims to be transparent, but the RTI applications filed by me seeking copies of the UIDAI’s contracts with the foreign MNCs have drawn a blank as the UIDAI said it had signed non-disclosure agreements with the contractors,” said Mathew Thomas, who has now appealed to the CIC against the order of the UIDAI’s Public Information Officer (PIO) and its appellate authority.
“What has the UIDAI got to hide in these contracts?” he wondered.
According to Mathew, national security could be seriously compromised as a result of the database going into the hands of the private firms.
The database of all people,residing in India, with a unique number allocated to each person, will be linked to their bank accounts, tax numbers, LPG consumer numbers, ration cards, insurance, health records, pension records and so on.
And it is reminiscent of the ID cards issued to Indian indentured labour in erstwhile racist South Africa and to the Jews in pre-Second World War Fuehrer’s Germany.
“While the UIDAI claims that it is voluntary to register, it adds in the samebreath that the service providers could ask for it. Next the UIDAI says the LPG number will be linked to it, in addition to schemes like the MGNREGA, KYC (Know Your Customer) of banks,” says Mathew.
The Identification of prisoners Act, 1920 allowed the authorities to collect the data of the prisoners,which had to be destroyed once they were released from jail.
“But now one billion Indians are now being treated worse than prisoners,” remarked social activist Gopal Krishna.Mathew said that in 2005, the ‘Real ID Act’ was passed in the US to incorporate biometrics in driving licences. And former British Prime Minister Tony Blair brought in the ‘National ID Card Act’ in the UK in 2005. These acts were promoted by Washington and London as measures to check the illegal immigration.