Thursday, March 10, 2011

276 - Lack of Parliamentary nod for UID is matter of grave concern: RS MP

Hyderabad Oct 13 (INN):

Rajya Sabha Member Azeez Pasha on Wednesday expressed his indignation at the decision of the Centre to go ahead with implementing the Unique Identity (UID) project without the approval of the country’s Parliament and without any study is a matter of grave concern.

Talking to INN, Mr Azeez Pasha said that the decision of the Union Government to go ahead with the project, which is estimated to cost around Rs 1,50,000 crore without the approval of the representatives of the people of the country is shocking.

He reminded that the decision to allocate the budget for setting up the UIDAI was passed without any discussion in Parliament as this was included in the General Budget.

The MP pointed out that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) plans to use the census data to issue AADHAR numbers which envisages recording ten finger prints and iris of all people residing in India. He said that if the claims by the government that the UIDAI project would prevent leaks in the Public Distribution System (PDS) were true, this would be a welcome solution.

The Rajya Sabha Member stated that even a cursory study of the project would create doubts about the impossibility of the achievements of the objectives as claimed by the Government.

He pointed out that many countries like Australia, China, Canada, Germany abandoned similar projects after taking them up. Mr Azeez Pasha pointed out that the Government of the United Kingdom too scrapped the national identity card project in June 2010.

The reason behind the decision to scrap or abandon projects similar to the UIDAI projects is because such projects infringe on norms of privacy, confidentiality and security of personnel information. He added that the scheme is extraordinarily expensive, especially for a country like India.

The Rajya Sabha Member stated that there is an unrealistic assumption behind the project that technology can be used to fix the ills of social inefficiencies. The benefits from the project in terms of raising the efficiency of government schemes appear to be limited, he said.

Mr Azeez Pasha also handed out some reasons for his objections to the UID project and said that the government has skipped public debate around criticisms and alternative suggestions.

The reasons handed out by him are:-

DATABASE SECURITY NOT ASSURED:- India does not have any robust legal frame work or infrastructure for cyber security and has work capabilities in this area several of our high security data bases have been hacked in the recent past the huge amount of personnel information collected on the UID database will most likely not be adequately protected.

MISUSE OF DATA:-The centralized data based where personnel data will be stored can easily be linked with other database such as employees state insurance corporation and data bases maintained by the police and intelligence agencies. This raises the risk of functionality creep as for instance the use of the UID database for policing and surveillance.

The bill does not does not have any provisions to penalize misuse of data by authorized persons (E.g. :-UIDAI officials) and therefore has an in built potential for use of personal data to identify and eliminate Maoists, Terrorists, Habitual offenders, Political opponents and others who are perceived as threats by those in power.

Several countries Including Australia, China, Canada and Germany have tried such projects and had given these up as impractical unjustified and dangerous. U.K. government withdrawn and scrapped their national identity card project on June 2010.

VIOLATION OF PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES:- The UID schemes violates the right of privacy, international law and India domestic law have set clear standards to protect and individuals privacy from unlawful invasion. Under the international convenient on civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ratified by India, An Individual’s right to privacy is protected from arbitrary or unlawful interference by the state.

UNJUSTIFIABLE COSTS:-The UID project has been launched without a feasibility study or cost-benefit analysis. The pilot to test the technology is being rolled out in Andhra Pradesh in September 2010 well after the drafting of the Bill. The current costs are estimated at rupees 45,000 crore. A budget provision of Rs 1950 crore has been made for the current year, of which over 200 crore has already been spent.

The cost of a fingerprint reader at this time is around USD 50. The total costs of placing finger print readers in each PDS outlet and in each of India’s 600,000 villages have not been taken into account in official cost calculations.

BYPASSING OF PARLIAMENT AND DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES:- The UID Authority has been set up with considerable powers and resources, without any approval from Parliament or discussion in the public domain about the necessity of such a scheme. In the absence of a Constitutional provision or legal framework such as that set out in the proposed bill all the actions of the UIDAI are technically unconstitutional and illegal. There is no transparency either on decisions or on expenditure no oversight and no mechanisms for accountability in the functioning of the UIDAI.

FALSE CLAIMS:- These claims are false and unjustified exclusion and leakages are not caused by the inability to prove identity they are caused by the deliberate manipulation of the system by those who have the power to control the flow of benefits.