Tuesday, March 8, 2011

237 - Twenty hours to launch, civil society raises red flag on UID project- Governance now

UID an exact opposite of RTI Act: Nikhil Dey

Samir has over ten years of experience with organizations like TCS, GOI, HCL, NISG , EY.
He is working as assistant editor with Governance Now

With prime minister, Manamohan Singh and UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi all set to hand over first set of unique identity numbers to the villagers in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, the civil society has raised multiple concerns over the project.  Seventeen eminent individuals have raised concerns on the manner in which Unique Identification Authority (UIDAI) has been constituted on basis of government notification and the risks it poses to civil liberties with the convergence of UID and NATgrid project.

Through a signed letter the activists working in different areas have asked the government to halt the project, initiate a feasibility study, analyze the constitutional implications, bring a privacy act, do a cost benefit analysis and initiate a public debate on the UID.  The signatories included Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Prof Romila Thapar, K.G.Kannabiran, Kavita Srivastava, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, S.R.Sankaran, Deep Joshi, Upendra Baxi, Uma Chakravarthi, Shohini Ghosh, Amar Kanwar, Bezwada Wilson, Trilochan Sastry, Prof. Jagdeep S. Chhokar, Shabnam Hashmi and Justice A.P.Shah.

While addressing a press conference here today Nikhil Dey of MKSS said that UID is direct opposite of the RTI Act. He mentioned that the RTI enables citizens to know everything about the government and UID will allow government to know everything about citizen. Justice A P Shah, retired judge of Delhi High Court expressed his apprehensions that various actors of the state may misuse such information in case of state sponsored violence. However on question that if it can be challenged in the court, Justice Shah mentioned that this being a policy matter cannot be challenged in court.

Representatives of civil society organization also apprehended that the suggested benefits in schemes like NREGA and PDS may not materialize due to different ground realities. They raised concerns about privacy, surveillance, profiling as a result of the UID. They highlighted that countries like US, Australia and UK have abandoned similar concerns on privacy and cost concerns.