Wednesday 2 February 2011

Aadhar Project And UIDAI Must Be Scrapped

Unique identity is a concept adopted and forsaken by many developed countries like UK, US, etc. This is because the concept of unique identification is a clear case of civil liberties violation in general and privacy rights infringement in particular.

India on the other hand is pushing unique identification project (UID project) or Aadhar project that also without any legal framework. The position is even more dangerous for civil liberty violations in India in the absence of privacy laws, data protection laws and data security laws in India.

The urgency and anxiety shown by Indian government to push Aadhar project in India only shows it is more interested in e-surveillance rather than social inclusion of Indians. Aadhar project is portrayed as a welfare scheme but in realty it is big brother project, that also without any accountability and legal framework.

Aadhar project is managed by unique identification authority of India (UIDAI), headed by Mr. Nandan Nilekani. Mr. Nilekani is a man of integrity and caliber but has no legal background. He has reason to be least bothered with civil liberties and privacy rights.

Despite that Mr. Nilekani suggested for the drafting of a legal framework for Aadhar project and enacting suitable privacy laws in India. He even asked for drafting a legal framework for UIDAI in the form of National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 (Bill) that has been cleared by Indian cabinet and introduced in the Rajya Sabha. However, the Bill still would not be sufficient to make Aadhar project and UIDAI constitutional and they would still remain “unconstitutional”.

Even industrialist Ratan Tata has filed a petition under Article 32 of Constitution of India to enforce his privacy rights. Meanwhile, the department of personnel and training (DoPT) has issued an approach paper on data protection but that is mere an eye wash and formality. No further action has been taken by DoPT to legislate on privacy and data protection laws in India.

It would be appropriate if prime minister’s office (PMO) offices immediately intervened and scrap the project till constitutionally sound framework is at place. Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh has to act fast as he has already given much life to Aadhar project and UIDAI, that also in an unconstitutional manner.