Surveillance Architecture, Radio Collar, RFID, PII & UID Number/Aadhaar
Surveillance Architecture, Radio Collar, RFID, PII & UID Number/Aadhaar
A Raja, Nandan Nilekani & Sam Pitroda Undermine Parliament & Citizens Rights
States, Citizens, Constitution Not Consulted
New Delhi, 16/2/2011: If tagging of Indian students with Radio Collar in US is deemed an assault on human rights and is deemed offensive, which it indeed it is, how are proposals of Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure & Innovations and Nandan Nilekani's UID Number/Aadhaar project that intends to tag all Indian residents acceptable? Both Pitroda and Nilekani work from the premises of Planning Commission of India.
In a statement on the matter of Tri-Valley University scam released to media dated 12th February, S.M. Krishna, Union External Affairs Minister, Government of India said, "You will be happy to know that radio tagging has been removed from some students and other cases are being actively pursued."
The statement issued in New York is available at http://meaindia.nic.in/mystart.php?id=550317170
It reveals that Government of India through its Embassy in Washington and Consulates in America has been working closely with the US Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to get "fair and humanitarian outcome" for the students who were tagged with radio collars. The fact remains that some of other students remain tagged with Radio collars in US.
It is germane to note that in the US, there is a UID like project called radio frequency identification (RFID) project which is being opposed by the citizen groups there. The technology, RFID, is rapidly moving into the real world through a wide variety of applications: Washington state driver’s licenses, U.S. passports, clothing, payment cards, car keys and more. Their objective is to create a future world where RFID is everywhere and figure out problems. RFID has been used primarily to track goods in supply chains, and the RFID Ecosystem works as a kind of human warehouse. The system can show when people leave the office, when they return, how often they take breaks, where they go and who’s meeting with whom. The latest RFID tags contain a 96-bit code meant to uniquely identify an object or person. The RFID is an invisible tag. US. Department of Homeland Security required states to use an RFID chip that is readable from a distance to be compatible with its REAL ID initiative. It has failed to take off because of opposition of US States and citizens.
It is common knowledge that large telecommunications companies are in the middle of a bitter dispute over their role assisting in government wiretapping, and whether they can be sued or be given legal immunity.
By the time, citizens will know that such technologies have become quite widespread, it might be hard to change. A global technology based control regime is emerging. It will be great if citizens groups cooperated against the emerging universal identification architecture to combat threats to civil liberties and natural resources. There is a need for more studies to reveal the dehumanizing ramifications of such technological interference in human life.
But Pitroda says, “Once you tag people, places, and programs, then it is easier to really organise information for delivering public services. Hopefully, with new focus on PII (Public Information Infrastructure & Innovations), where we could essentially tag people, tag places, tag programs, we will be able to structure delivery systems to get lot better productivity, efficiency, reduced cost. The starting point for this nationwide network of fiber optics, wireless systems to connect 2, 50, 000 Panchayats all over the country especially in rural areas where ultimately information data gathering would begin. This is where beneficiaries are.” All this information will be in the hands of a few ‘trustworthy' people in the government and few select companies.
Office of the Adviser to help create Public Information Infrastructure that includes "Roadmap for establishment of Common, Secure and Unified Cyber Space for the Government and Public Services, Framework for efficient delivery of services under Social Sector Programmes, Blueprint and action plan for Broadband connectivity to rural/urban areas, GIS mapping of Places and Government Programmes in the country, E-governance, Applications for services at Panchayats and Consultation with Stakeholders including UID".
The Unique Identification (UID) programme intends to document every Indian resident and give them a unique identification (UID) number, which is an important part of the public information infrastructure. Such a situation is fraught with both unintended and intended consequences impacting monetary, non-monetary aspects of citizens' life and their civil liberties.
As an Adviser to the Prime Minister Sam Pitroda has been appointed in the rank of Cabinet Minister, is he accountable to the Parliament? Does the Parliament know about it? Has any concerned Committee of Parliament discussed the ramifications of such unprecedented convergence?. Has there been any consultation with citizens and states?
It is claimed that "PII will improve governance and public service delivery by providing a national repository of information about: People:Citizens, Residents, Households, Places: Villages, Towns, Streets, Schools, Hospitals, Government Offices, Factories, Offices, Residence, Stations, mines, minerals, dams, plants, rivers, parks, forests, farms etc and Programmes:NREGS, Pensions (Old age, Widows), Disability, Scholarships, Backward, Girl Child Benefit Schemes, e-Judiciary, E-Office, Public Distribution System, Police & Prisons, Treasuries, Land Records, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, National Rural Health Mission.
Report of the Nilekani headed Technology Advisory Group (TAGUP) for Unique Projects dated January 31, 2011 presented to Union Ministry of Finance recommends setting up of National Information Utilities (NIU) to deal with complex Information Technology (IT) systems and projects like Goods and Services Tax (GST), Tax Information Network (TIN), Expenditure Information Network (EIN), National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and New Pension System (NPS). It proposes NIUs as "private companies with a public purpose:profit-making, but not profit maximizing." The report discusses the possibility of setting up NIUs as NGOs under Societies Registration Act, 1860 but recommends that the NIU should be structured as a company with limited liability and be subject to sound corporate governance norms, such as those required for listed companies.
The TAGUP Report is available at http://www.finmin.nic.in/reports/TAGUP_Report.pdf
The TAGUP report refers to UIDAI Strategy Overview document published by UIDAI and mentions that "The recent acceptance of Aadhaar (UID Number) for satisfying proof of identity and address for all telecom connections by Department of Telecommunications will also ensure greater telecom inclusion" even as the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance is seized with National Identification Bill (NIAI), 2010. The Bill's Section 58 shows the hollowness of UIDAI's basis. The Bill reads, "Anything done or any action taken by the Central Government Savings under the Resolution of the Government of India, Planning Commission bearing notification number A-43011/02/2009-Admin.I, dated the 28th January, 2009, shall be deemed to have been done or taken under the corresponding provisions of this Act." The UIDAI is attempting to second guess legislative intent and takes it consent for granted as if our Parliament is a rubber stamp.
The TAGUP report refers to Biometric data standards and how "the UIDAI published standards for the collection and storage of biometric data in the Report on Biometrics Design Standards for UID Applications, under the chairmanship of Dr. Gairolab." It must be noted that the uncertainties about biometrics in relation to a large a population as 1.2 billion remain. According to this very Report of the Biometrics Committee of the UIDAI, so far, the maximum number covered has been 50 million people. In fact, even this Committee of UIDAI looked unsure of it in the final analysis, stating: “First, retaining efficacy while scaling the database size from fifty million to a billion has not been adequately analysed. Second, fingerprint quality, the most important variable for determining de-duplication accuracy, has not been studied in depth in the Indian context.”
It must be noted that the Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) related issues which was constituted by Government of India on 22 October 2009 comprised of the then Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology, A. Raja and its functions included "All issues relating to the Unique identification Authority of India including its organisation, plans, policies, programmes, schemes, funding and methodology to be adopted for achieving the objectives of that Authority." The decisions of this Committee, the extent to which it was influenced by Raja's presence along with the MoUs signed by the UIDAI merit parliamentary scrutiny until the same is complete the UID Number project should be put on hold.
A National Seminar on Unique Identification Number Project is scheduled to held at A N Sinha Institute, Patna on 21st February, 2011 to respond to the National Identification Authority of Bill, 2010, the World Bank eTransform Initiative (ETI) and to examine its short-term and long term impacts. Bihar Government and other state governments have been kept in dark about the entire “solutions architecture” mentioned in the TAGUP report which is unfolding to the detriment of the federal structure of the country. The Seminar is being organised by A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna, INSAF, New Delhi and Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL).
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Member, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties, Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S: Fellow citizens and residents are requested to endorse the statement of concern on UID Number 17 eminent persons available at http://www.petitiononline.com/NO2UID/petition.html