Sunday 3 November 2013

STOP AADHAAR PROJECT IN INDIA NOW, in the interests of the nation---citizens of India


The Prime Minister & Parliamentarians of India: STOP AADHAAR PROJECT IN INDIA NOW

Thousands of Crores of Rupees have been wasted on issuing Aadhaar, a Unique Identification Number to 440 million Indians, that does not provide any Government subsidies to India’s poor population benchmarked Below Poverty Lines (BPL). Aadhaar does not identify the Poor in any way.
It is Voluntary but is being made mandatory by service providers, which has been questioned by the Supreme Court of India. Aadhaar invades privacy and will require another 100,000 crores or more for effective authentication, with very diminished cost benefit.
Aadhaar poses a major threat to National Security, for example terrorists from other bordering countries can infiltrate into India and use the weak UID “introducer system” to get an Aadhaar and be recognised as a resident of India. This will facilitate sleepers, who provide logistics and support to terrorism, to move freely the length & breadth of the nation, using their Aadhaar as proof of identification as Indian resident. It dangerously interlinks bank accounts, insurance data, telephone data and health data, posing risks of financial breach and surveillance unprecedented in history.
Mahatma Gandhi said “In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.”
The fact that over 440 million innocent people have been coerced into registering for Aadhaar, does not make it right. History tells us that Mahatma Gandhi burnt ID Cards with finger prints issued by General Smuts to Indians living in South Africa, yet we are allowing our Indian Government to finger print the entire population, as if we are a nation of criminals.
Mahatma Gandhialso wrote “ I want world sympathy in this matter of might against right”
Time for people of India to fight for your right to privacy and challenge the might of a Government that has refused to pay heed to objections and protests, for four long years.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke
Time for all well meaning people worldwide to come alive, read and appreciate this petition and not just sign it, but share it with all family and friends, and ask them to endorse it as well.
Shri Manmohan Singh, Respected Prime Minister & Parliamentarians of India

We the undersigned are Indians who are extremely concerned that ‘Aadhaar’ has been issued to over 440 million Indians despite opposition from all quarters. The project seems to be riding on a wave of half-truths and hype, that has led the population to believe that the Government is doing this to serve the poor people in India, solely in order to ensure they receive the subsidies intended for them.
We have listed below what we believe is the truth for every Indian to read, understand and endorse.

  • Aadhaar is purely an ID number, and does not in any way guarantee government subsidies. It is no way similar to the US Social security card as is being falsely claimed. The US Social Security Card guarantees the card owner social security benefits, and is not to be used for identification. This is clearly written on the card. Aadhaar is the exact opposite of US Social Security Card.

  • UIDAI deliberately spreads the impression that its UID scheme is voluntary. This is neither true, nor an accident. The fact is that the chairman UIDAI also heads an intra-governmental group whose job it is to get other arms of the government to make UID inclusion compulsory, a clear conflict of interest. Cooking gas, driving licenses, marriage licenses, salaries, schooling, bank accounts, insurance – all have become or are becoming unavailable without enrolment for UID. The judiciary has finally, after four long years of knocking at its doors for relief, taken UIDAI to task – but the government is still ploughing blindly ahead.

  • Sucheta Dalal, recipient of Padma Shree for her contributions in Journalism, in her ‘MoneyLife’ article writes, “The Supreme Court’s stay order of 23rd September on the implementation of Aadhaar [UID] has provided much needed relief to people who were being forced to avail of this biometric identity due to backdoor government mandates for access to essential facilities and services such as gas cylinders, registration of birth, property and marriages, salaries in municipal schools and even admission to schools.”

  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, which examined the draft NIAI Bill 2010 declared in 2011, while returning the Bill to the government from Parliament, declared, inter alia:

  1. There is no feasibility study of the project.
  2. The project was approved in haste
  3. The system has far-reaching consequences for national security
  4. The project is directionless with no clarity of purpose
  5. It is built on unreliable and untested technology
  6. There is lack of coordination and difference of views between various departments and ministries of government on the project

  • The Union Cabinet has approved, reportedly in unseemly haste, a fresh Bill to empower the working of the UIDAI, after the Supreme Court Ruling was made, and with little regard for the recommendations of the Standing Committee of Finance of Parliament in 2011. This is a very undemocratic approach, displaying astonishing disregard for Parliamentary processes.

  • The Union Cabinet was reportedly unsure of the status of UIDAI’s UID, whether it was intended to be a card or a number, hardly six months ago. The same Cabinet has now approved a Draft NIAI Bill, reportedly little changed from the Bill of 2010. Multiple government agencies are now treating it as a card and rendering facilities on the basis of production of the printout, without full-fledged authentication of the number by UIDAI. This appears to smack of a partisan reaffirmation of an existing arbitrary decision.

  • Australians have outright rejected the Australia card, a concept closely parallel to what UID is in practice, despite exaggerated claims to the contrary. The British National ID Card programme, used to justify the launch of the UIDAI enrolment initiative, was scrapped after spending about 695 million pounds sterling. The cost of scrubbing the illegal enrolments off record was a further 100 million pounds, while UIDAI has failed to even define the process of removing anyone from the database, should the enrolee decide voluntarily to be deleted, and the cost of scrubbing cannot be estimated. The Malaysian MyKad, also compulsory, is often reportedly used by Malaysian police to harass ordinary people, especially the minority population Indians and Chinese. Comparisons with the Singapore ID card should be objectionable to supporters of freedom and a representational democracy.

  • The Executive Order passed by the Government in 2009, has still not been endorsed by Parliament, as customarily required for any executive decision involving rights of citizens. The decisions of the UIDAI Chairman, Mr Nandan Nilekani, are effectively independent of the Cabinet (which has constituted a special Group of Ministers that has simply endorsed them, to the extent of further going beyond existing law in terms of the Citizenship Act, 2003), and the Parliament. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely!” Mr Nilekani is on record as declaring that, “In terms of implementing policies that are good for you, whether you like it or not, autocratic regimes are better than democracies.”

  • Mr Nilekani has been appointed to chair and contribute to a series of Task Forces and Committees where his continuing contribution is to recommend implementation of either UID-linked or similar tagging exercises that will comprehensively enable the detailed tracking of every person and transaction in the country, constituting a degree of surveillance unimagined in any democratic nation, much more severe than anything in history attributed to totalitarian regimes.

  • The Registrar General of India (RGI) has questioned the reliability of biometrics collected en masse by UIDAI, given the wealth of reports of irregularities in the work done by third party contractors. The same number is to link usual residents of the country as part of the National Population Register, in which registration is mandatory, making a mockery of UIDAI’s claim to be pursuing voluntary registration only.

  • Former Home Minister P. Chidambaram was reported to be concerned about the authenticity of details furnished by people to UIDAI, and further, of the reliability of “introducers” appointed by UIDAI, mandated to endorse people who claimed not to have any kind of Government-recognised identification documentation. Reports of widespread misuse of the facility, from which introducers are indemnified, has thrown the process into doubt.

  • The issue of UID numbers is unconstitutional and undemocratic in implementation. It lacks broad consultation, has no cost benefit analysis, is intrusive, violates privacy, and breaches national security, as expressed by Home Minister Chidambaram. Deduplication is being carried out by foreign multinationals such as Morpho/Safran (with two separate contracts, through the US-registered L-1 Identity Solutions and the Indian multinational Tech Mahindra), meaning they have access to people’s biometric and other personally identifiable information. This leads to the creation of a database on the entire population which can be misused by people who have access, for which Indian citizens lack legal redress in the absence of a comprehensive privacy law, yet Aadhaar is virtually useless until the Government is able to ensure reliable Internet connectivity anywhere in the country, functioning electricity and several million fingerprint and/or iris scanners.

  • We are concerned that Aadhaar has prepared the Ground for a ‘Big Brother State’, compromising National Security and Sovereignty. The collection of biometrics is not within the mandate of the Citizenship Act 1955 and its attendant Rules. The UID number allotted is designed to be random, bearing no attribute or identity data relating to the holder (ref. Clause 4 (2) of the draft NIAI Bill 2010) thereby not differentiating between a citizen or any other person.

  • The UIDAI as an entity has zero responsibility or liability when it comes to loss of data or theft of data, yet no legally actionable mechanism has been created to provide relief for citizens to claim compensation for misuse of the data collected, either directly by UIDAI, or put in harm’s way by use of the number at insecure locations.

  • Last but not least is the cost of this Aadhaar Project, which stands at Rs 3,490 crores for enrolling 440 million Indians at this point of time (total estimated cost of Rs 12,400 crores for enrolment alone). It may eventually cost as much as 1,00,000 crores to establish an authentication system, requiring broadband connectivity almost everywhere in the country. In addition, hundreds of thousands of crores worth of biometric scanners and related hardware have to be imported from overseas not to mention cost of training operators and maintenance of scanners, will be incurred on a continual basis going forward. These costs are proposed to be recovered by assigning ownership of personally identifiable information of all enrolled persons to the UIDAI, with unlimited rights of monetisation.
We the undersigned, strongly believe the UPA II Coalition Government has been sold a dud. It is time to stop UIDAI enrolment immediately, in the interests of the nation.

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