Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere, VSM tell President that UID is extra-legal, unethical, coercive
New Delhi, 28 Jan, 2013: Prime Minister headed Cabinet Committee on UID related matters (CCUIDRM) which also deal with National Population Register (NPR) has ensured that Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) continues to complete its four years of existence without any legal basis and without disclosing that UID database and NPR database is being merged with the electoral database. UIDAI was created by a notification of Planning Commission dated January 28, 2009.The notification is attached.
As of as on January 2, 2013, Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of India related issues includes Prime Minister, Sharad Pawar, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Food Processing Industries, P. Chidambaram, Minister of Finance, Sushilkumar Shinde, Minister of Home Affairs, Mallikarjun Kharge, Minister of Labour and Employment, Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Kumari Selja, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development, Ajay Maken, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Ashwani Kumar, Minister of Law and Justice with Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, UIDAI as Special Invitees.
The notification refers to an ‘approved strategy’ which has not been disclosed to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and the Parliament. It appears that the fake rift that was created for media consumption, for citizens and dissenting States like Gujarat remains a part of the strategy. The terms of reference in the notification is revealing.
Documents of key industry bodies available in public domain indicate that this strategy comprises of converging National Intelligence Grid that has been set up as an attached office of the Ministry of Home Affairs in April, 2010 to link databases for constructing actionable intelligence accessing about two dozen categories of data sources including UID, NPR, Census and electoral database besides property database.
If citizens, Parliament, Courts and State legislatures scrutinize the ‘Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project’ that was prepared and submitted to the processes committee of the Planning Commission (set up in July 2006) by Wipro Ltd (consultant for the design phase and programme management phase of the pilot UIDAI project), they may get sufficient reason to dismantle the project. This vision document is missing. It was not shared with the Parliamentary Committee on Finance which rejected the UID project and Bill. The last clause of the National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill, 2010 for UID revealed how UID related initiatives and plans are meant to make democratic institutions redundant or rubber stamps.
As per the website of Cabinet Secretariat, the function of CCUIDAI includes, “All issues relating to the Unique Identification Authority of India including its organization, plans, policies, programmes, schemes, funding and methodology to be adopted for achieving the objectives of that Authority.” Source:http://cabsec.nic.in/showpdf.php?type=council_cabinet_committees
It appears that CCUIDRM member, P Chidamabaram and his colleagues in this Committee have managed to outsmart all the political parties including likes of Narendra Modi and Yashwant Sinha and left government in Tripura both in his role as Home Minister and now in his role a Finance Minister.
Another 15-page document of Wipro, titled ‘Does India need a Unique Identity Number?’, cited the example of UK’s Identity Cards Act, 2006 on page no. 6 to advance the argument on UID number in India. Now that UK’s new government has abandoned its National Identity Cards Scheme and has announced it in the British Parliament.
Is it the case that when UK implements national identity cards scheme, it should be cited as an example, but when it abandons the programme, it becomes irrelevant and illogical?
Why are Wipro, UIDAI, the Planning Commission and the prime minister silent about their UK example?
Is it not conflict of interest that after submitting the ‘Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project’ (which is missing), Wipro has been getting contracts from UIDAI for ‘Deployment of 7 project managers, supply, installation, commissioning for hardware – software for data centre at Bengaluru & NCR, deployment of 32 resource personnel and monitoring tools and hiring of data centre space (2,000 sq ft) & facilities for UIDAI at Delhi/NCR.’ From December 2010 till May 2011, it has got four contracts amidst reports of irregularities.
It is noteworthy that besides Supreme Court, writ petitions are pending in Mumbai, Chennai and an appeal is pending in Karnataka too questioning the legality and constitutionality of UID related projects.
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) demands that CCUIDRM must disclose its ‘approved strategy’ & ‘Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project’ document.
Some 38 contracts have been awarded to various companies including US and French biometric technology companies but these contract documents are not in public domain. There is documented circumstantial evidence that appears to show contracts succeed or precede UIDAI officials being awarded in places like Milan, Italy in the way Pakistan’s concerned officials have been awarded by World Identification Summit/Congress sponsored by US entities like AB Notes Corporations, the agency that prints currency and French entities like Safran Group housed in Hindustan Times Building, New Delhi. The latter has got several contracts from UIDAI. Interestingly, publications from this building have openly declared themselves to be supporters of UID-Aadhhar.
In a related development, in a letter to the President of India Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd) expressed grave objections against mandatory UID Aadhaar scheme which is extra-legal, unethical and coercive.
Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere has raised questions about biometrics, data security and privacy saying, “It remains unclear, even doubtful, whether biometry-information technology – the technological cornerstone of the project – is capable of the gigantic task of de-duplication in a billion-plus population. This is true in view of UIDAI’s Biometrics Standards Committee itself having noted that retaining biometric efficiency for a database of more than one billion persons “has not been adequately analysed” and the problem of fingerprint quality in India “has not been studied in depth”. Further, it is well established that fingerprints of people who do manual work are often worn out or even missing, as with rural agricultural workers or urban domestic workers. These people, who are in enormous numbers and declared beneficiaries of the UID Aadhaar scheme, will not be able to receive social and other benefits even if they succeed in enrolling into the UID Aadhaar scheme.”
In his letter, he observes, “The security of biometric data and other information acquired by UIDAI is in question for the following reasons: 220.127.116.11 The UID Aadhaar system can provide the link between various data bases and it will inevitably be at the core of a system which will enable profiling and tracking any citizen, to serve the clandestine purposes of India’s security or intelligence agencies, or to corporate business interests.”
He says, “If biometric data and other information of people falls into the hands of unauthorized agencies, personal privacy is unequivocally compromised. The fact that UIDAI has no answer to the security hazards pointed out to it, and is silent or evasive on the subject, does not inspire confidence in the capability of UIDAI or the UID Aadhaar system to maintain personal privacy rights. This is quite apart from the plethora of scientific data available that shows how fingerprints are not reliable indicators of unique identity. In view of all the foregoing, I fear for violation of my personal right to privacy by enrolling into the UID Aadhaar scheme.”
He has urged the President of India saying, “I urgently and earnestly request you to 3.3.1 Issue immediate, unambiguous orders to the concerned union ministries and state
governments, that making UID Aadhaar enrolment necessary for receiving rightful entitlements like pension and salary, and food-and-water, health, education, civil supplies and other welfare benefits, be stopped with immediate effect.” The UID project or Aadhaar was supposed to be a scheme to eliminate corruption in welfare schemes and provide an identity to the poor. It is now intruding into citizens lives and rights. Several demonstrations have shown that there are intrinsic and extrinsic flaws inherent in biometrics.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), New Delhi, Mb: 9818089660, E-mail: [email protected]
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) has been campaigning against unregulated biometric, surveillance and identification technology companies since 2010 and had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee, Finance in this regard. CFCL has consistently underlined that the silence of the States which are quite vocal about threats to federal structure from Union Home Ministry‘s National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) that integrates 21 sets of databases in the matter of the creation of UID’s Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) disregarding the fact that Planning Commission’s CIDR and Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) is inexplicable.
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