Press Council of India member disparroves of enrollment shivir for biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number

Statement of concern on enrollment shivir for biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number

Press Council of India (PCI)'s Norms of Journalistic Conduct refers to Press "As a custodian of public interest". The enrollment shivir of Delhi Journalists Association (DJA) and Indraprastha Press Club of
India with support from Indian Medical Association (IMA) for biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number is unethical, illegitimate and illegal. It is against the public interest. The enrollment planned for August 4-5, 2013 for journalists appears to be a partial act.

How will they undertake impartial reporting on the controversial issue of violation of human rights by biometric technologies when they have submitted themselves before it?.

In fact media organisations and unions should desist from submitting themselves to biometric attendance in their respective organisations and examine the legality of such arrangements.

DJA, NUJ and IMA should scrutinize the legality of UID/aadhaar number by attempting to seek answer to questions like:

what is the UID/Aadhaar?

A card?

A number?

Or both?

Is the UID project about identity or identification?

 Is it about control and tracking or transparency?

Is it about information or data?

Is it a unique identity (UID) or a “Know Your Customer” (KYC)?

Is the UID voluntary or mandatory?

Is the information collected kept on a government database or with
private companies?

Is the UIDAI part of the state, or an entity that transits through the
Planning Commission to become a private company when it reaches
“steady state”?

Is the UIDAI a back office for the National Population Register (NPR),
or is it a competitor in the race to enrol?

Is the UID part of a surveillance apparatus, or is it only to deliver

Is biometrics unimpeachable or this an experiment?

Is it a game changer or an app?

Why have countries like UK, Australia, China, France etc rejected
similar biometric identification based exercises?

What did Wikileaks reveal about Pakistani citizens biometric database,
Egyptian citizens database and UID?

Has the Greek citizens database which was stolen been recovered?

Isn't UIDAI planning to become a NIU (National Information Utility, a private company with a public purpose with profit making as the motive but not profit maximizing)?

Media persons basic tool is language. They can easily see through the linguistic corruption being attempted to take them royally for a ride if they apply their mind rigorous.

Informed media persons will surely boycott such illegitimate and bullying initiatives of the government which is linked to National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) which faces opposition from most political parties. Such initiatives are a threat to privacy, civil liberties, federalism,
national security, sovereignty and constitution because it facilitates emergence of a database based surveillance State. It is indeed quite bizarre that DJA was ignorant of the report of multiparty Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance submitted to the Parliament in December 2011 which questioned the power of the government to collect bio-metric data and dismissed the Bill to make UIDAI legal with retrospective effect.

DJA and its parent organisation NUJ can rectify their big mistake by issuing a statement of clarification and regret after examining the official, parliamentary and legal basis of biometric identification being undertaken by Planning Commission's Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and Union Ministry of Home Affairs under the influence of World Bank Group and its partner foreign companies like Gemalto, IBM, L-1 Identity Solutions of Safran Group, Microsoft and Pfizer. If by mistake some media persons or their near ones get enrolled they should refrain from using it.

DJA, NUJ and their supporting organisation IMA should examine the history text books and understand how biometric identification was used by the Nazi regime in Germany for profiling the jews and causing
holocaust. These media organisations have committed a blunder by getting themselves trapped in this anti-people profiling business because of its being anti-poor, anti-minorities and undemocratic. If
they can show the moral courage to take remedial steps with immediate effect they will help set a healthy precedent in public interest.

Arun Kumar
Member, Press Council of India
General Secretary, Bihar Working Journalists Union (BWJU)
Member, National Executive Committee, Indian Journalists Union (IJU),
President, The Times of India Newspaper Employees Union (TOINEU), Patna


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