SC Must Act, Clear Confusions on Aadhar,Govt Pressuring Telecom Operators to Make it Compulsory: Sanjay Hegde, The Hindu he Hindu

SC Must Act: It is time the Chief Justice of India set up the larger Bench to examine privacy challenges to Aadhaar, says Senior Advocate Sanjay hegde in The Hindu

Today is the day of the All India Protests Against aadhar and hence we are focussing on the arguments brought out in the story

The entire piece may be read here

The task before the sentinel: privacy challenges to Aadhaar

"The expansion of Aadhaar continues. The effort is now emboldened by a Supreme Court judgment that has stuck a band-aid on a gaping wound, which required stitches if not surgery. Individual holdouts against Aadhaar have been recognised and grudgingly protected by the judgment. There is, however, no broad declaration against an overpowering state’s propensity to stretch out to every sphere to compel individual surrender of little remnants of liberty. The architecture of enforced surveillance has been left intact.

As good as its use
Aadhaar is a classic case of technology being amoral. The splitting of the atom gave us nuclear energy. It also gave us weapons with the capacity to destroy civilisation. Similarly, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) began only with the mandate to confirm a citizen’s unique identity. A stand-alone authority, with biometric information and fingerprints, which could, in cases of doubt, identify with certainty any claimant of government subsidies or special services. Aadhaar’s claim was to weed out duplicates and forgeries, thus ensuring targeted distribution by administrations.

However, the UIDAI database has today ceased to be only a neutral identifier of a person’s identity. In the Information Age, where data is the new oil, the temptation to maximise the use of an all-encompassing database is simply too strong. More and more service providers sought linkages to the data and the government ramped up the number of government and other organisations that could insist on an Aadhaar-based identity alone as a sine qua non for dealing with the user. Shortly after the Supreme Court’s recent judgment of June 9, 2017, the government publicised a prior notification of June 1, 2017, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The notification makes it mandatory for bank account holders to produce an Aadhaar number.
The government has also deliberately misconstrued an earlier Supreme Court order in order to pressurise telecom operators to make Aadhaar a requirement for all mobile phone users. Even education and health services have been used to broaden the Aadhaar net and draw in more people into the dragnet. Schools insist on newly admitted children having Aadhaar numbers, which are not given until the parents too submit to Aadhaar registration.

There are reports that the Civil Aviation Ministry wants to make Aadhaar identification mandatory for access to commercial flights. The government has decided to make the cost of holding out unbearable to the non-compliant and present courts with a fait accompli.

The entire piece may be read here



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