#India – Threat of exclusion, and of surveillance #UID #Aadhaar


Uid- I am not a criminal

The aadhaar project has become the bane of average Indians, threatening their access to all manner of services. basic questions have sometimes been asked and almost never been answered, says
Usha Ramanathan, in the first of a multi-part series.

The Unique Identity (UID) project has been around for over four years. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was set up by an executive notification dated 28 January 2009 and came into its own after Mr Nandan Nilekani was appointed as chairperson in July 2009. Now it has, as some observers say, become an experiment being conducted on the entire  country.
In its early stages, it was marketed, simply, as giving the poor and the undocumented an identity. It was to be voluntary, and an entitlement. But, it is evident even from the Strategy Overview document of the UIDAI that it was never intended to be an entitlement that people may choose to adopt or ignore. That document said that “enrolment will not be mandated”, but went on to add: “This will not, however, preclude governments or registrars from mandating enrolment”. So, the potential for compulsion was built into the architecture of the project. Starting in 2012, voluntariness began to be eroded, and threats of exclusion from services and entitlements began to be bandied about. By January 2013, a virtual panic was set off when it was announced that various services and entitlements would not be accessible to persons who did not have a UID number.
Mr Nilekani has said time and again that half the population is expected to be enrolled by the end of 2014; yet, there have been warnings that people without a UID number may find themselves unable to access benefits and subsidies if they did not have it, if a bank account had not been opened, and if the UID number were not embedded in the bank account. So, subsidy for cooking gas, kerosene, and scholarships, for instance, became dependent on having a bank account seeded with the UID, or aadhaar, number. In case anyone wonders what the UIDAI has to do with these decisions, it is the chairperson of the UIDAI, Mr Nilekani, who chaired the committees that recommended these changes. The reports are in the public domain.
From its inception, the UID project has been about creating the ‘database resident’. The website of the Department of Information Technology, which has been renamed as Department of Electronics and Information Technology, modestly carrying the acronym DeitY, has said all along that “Project UID, a Planning Commission initiative, proposes to create a central database of residents, initially of those above the age of 18 years”. Except, that the UIDAI got more ambitious and wanted everyone, from the newborn to the oldest resident, on its database. And it was always intended to converge various databases to construct a profile of the individual, and to this effect the website of DeitY says that “the project envisages provision of linking of existing databases, as well as providing for future additions, by the user agencies”. The MoUs between the UIDAI and various registrars that include the state governments, oil companies, banks and the Registrar-General of India, who is in charge of census and the National Population Register and socio-economic and caste census, not only provide for various additional fields of data being collected during enrolment, but also for having the UID number appended to each such database.
As for biometrics, documents reveal that when the decision was made to use fingerprints and iris for enrolment, there was no knowledge about whether these biometrics would work in India, given the demographic and environmental conditions. In fact, it has since been found that with age the fingerprint fades, that manual labour makes the fingerprint difficult to read, that malnourishment-induced cataract blights an estimated 8-10 million people, and so on. In fact, as recently as 23 April 2013, Mr Nilekani said in his speech at the Centre for Global Development in Washington: “We came to the conclusion that if we take sufficient data, biometric data of an individual, then that person’s biometric will be unique across a billion people. Now we have to find that out. We haven’t done it yet. So we’ll discover it as we go along.” First, the conclusion. Then they will wait to find out! That is why some observers of the project have been saying that it is an experiment being conducted on the entire population. The consequences of failure have not been discussed, although, in a talk at the World Bank in Washington on 24 April 2013, Mr Nilekani said in response to a question about what he thought was the greatest downside risk to the UID: “To answer the question about what is the biggest risk,” he said “in some sense, you run the risk of creating a single point of failure also.”
There is more to cause concern, and much to be answered about UID.
(The writer is an academic activist. She has researched the UID and its ramifications since 2009.)
LEGALITY
The UID project is proceeding without the cover of law. There is only the notification of January 2009 which says the UIDAI “owns” the database, but which says nothing about how it may be used, or what will happen if it fails or if there is identity fraud, or some outside agency gains access to the database. A Bill was introduced in Parliament in December 2010, after the project had been launched and data collection had begun. The Bill collapsed in December 2011 when the Parliamentary Standing Committee found it severely defective, and after it found that the Bill and the project needed to be sent back to the drawing board. There is no sign yet of a Bill, and any protection that the law may offer is non-existent. There is no law to protect privacy either.
Convergence and snooping
The UIDAI, and Mr Nilekani, have refused to address the probability of surveillance, convergence, tracking, profiling, tagging and intrusions into privacy that is likely to result from the creation of the database of residents and the intended convergence. The link between technology, databases, governmental power and corporate involvement in creating, maintaining, managing and using databases has produced various scenarios of surveillance that we ignore at our peril. PRISM is such a stark demonstration of the ambitions that can fuel a state that the UIDAI can no longer just say `no comment’ when asked about the surveillance potential being created.
In the same period, the state has already set up agencies such as the Natgrid, NCTC, NTRO, CCTNS, MAC which will use the potential for convergence of databases that the UID makes possible. In April 2011, the government made rules under the IT Act 2000, by which it would be able to access any data held by any “body corporate”. More recently, we have been hearing about the CMS, or the Central Monitoring System, speaking to a surveillance and control approach that will have the state snooping on us with no oversight, no prior permission, no answerability at any time to anyone.
The companies engaged by the UIDAI to manage the database include L1 Identity Solutions and Accenture. The UIDAI, in response to an RTI request, has claimed that they have no means of knowing that these are foreign companies, given the process of their selection! Yet, a search on the internet reveals the closeness between the L1 Identity Solutions and the CIA, and that after a recent transaction, it is part-owned by the French government; while Accenture is in a Smart Borders Project with the US Department of Homeland Security. Data security, personal security, national security and global surveillance are all drawn into a ring of concern, but remain unaddressed.

 

Nandan Nilekani’s #Aadhaar faces fight from a team of Europay, Mastercard & Visa #UID


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By Sugata Ghosh, ET Bureau | 17 Jun, 2013,
Nandan Nilekani‘s Aadhaar project faces fight from a team of Europay, Mastercard & Visa
MUMBAI: This could be a sign of what the future holds for Aadhaar. Amid an alarming rise in credit card frauds, data thefts and card cloning, a group of bankers will decide in a month the appropriate payment technology for the Indian banking system and retail consumers.
If the group votes for EMV – an internationally accepted technology standard for authenticating credit card, debit card and ATM transactions – Aadhaar, which is comparatively untested and follows a different technology, may face an uncertain future. EVM is a joint initiative between Europay, Mastercard and Visa – the world’s leading payments service providers.
Credit and debit cards that are based on EMV have the card and CVC numbers, which are the key to any electronic transaction, hidden or encrypted. Since encrypted data reduces the risk of cloning or skimming at ATMs and merchant outlets, some of the private banks have started upgrading their systems to EMV standards following recent card frauds.
But, if the group, constituted by the Reserve Bank of India, prefers Aadhaar, banks will have to change their systems, procure biometric machines and prepare for different security standards. Bankers, however, are reluctant to spell out their stand openly because the government thinks Aadhaar can be a game changer in disbursing subsidies to people in far-flung regions.
Besides, banks, particularly the state-owned lenders, are unwilling to take on Nandan Nilekani, the former InfosysBSE 1.05 % CEO who heads the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the state-owned agency that issues the 12-digit Aadhaar numbers.
“Mr Nilekani is pursuing Aadhaar with RBI. He has a standing and has political backing,” said a person familiar with the discussions.
Transition Could Take Some Time
“So, while many banks are in favour of EMV due to rising incidents of frauds, they are quiet, waiting for the committee to submit its report, which is expected by early July,” said the person. If the committee recommends Aadhaar for banks, it will be a victory for UIDAI. Banks will then have to use Aadhaar for not only customer authentication, but also for payments. But even if banks are mandated to implement Aadhaar, the transition could take time and a slice of the market will move back to cash. So, it will be some years before Visa and Mastercard feel the threat.
Indian banks’ payments technology for retail customers is currently at crossroads. ATM transactions are processed through the state-backed National Payments Corporation, which is being positioned as an umbrella organisation for processing all retail payments, while credit and debit card transactions are processed by multinationals like Visa and MasterCard. National Payments Corp, headed by Nilekani’s former boss NR Narayana Murthy, is unable to support EMV at present for its network and will have to change its standards if EMV is implemented by banks.
“What’s drawing banks towards EMV — and many Asian banks have already migrated to it — is the vulnerability of the magnetic stripe technology that’s used for credit and debit card transactions today. Micro devices can be planted in ATMs machines to copy the magnetic stripe and scan the PIN to clone cards. This is not possible in EMV where the data is encrypted,” said a banker.
Highlighting the monopolies in the industry being created, the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) has recommended the Competition Commission to look into the subject. Meanwhile, the RBI governor has set up a committee to come out with a discussion paper on Aadhaar as an additional factor of authentication for card transactions. While Aadhaar can be used for authentication and KYC purposes, the regulator would like a final answer on whether it can be used for payments.

 

 

 

 

#India- Who owns our identity? #UID #Aadhaar #Biometrics


Author: Latha Jishnu, Down to Earth
Posted on: 31 May, 2013

Between Nilekani’s UID and National Population Register’s KYR+is a huge mess and a looming nightmare

imageIllustration: Anirban Bora

 

Yattan Bibi, scrubber of floors and cleaner of dishes (other people’s), has spent the past six months visiting a number of government departments, bank offices and “camps” in different schools. All this to get her identity proven—again and again. It’s a bureaucratic obstacle race that’s tired her out but the hope of getting some kind of dole “for my old age when my limbs get weak” keeps this unlettered woman stubbornly on the paper chase. Most of the time she has no clue quite what is expected of her, much less why.

In recent weeks, armed with her tattered ration card and an old bank passbook which are her most prized assets, Yattan Bibi has piled up an impressive number of documents. Thanks to her ration card she has got an aadhaar number, which is software czar Nandan Nilekani’s “gift” of a unique identity to the millions he says have been left out of the system because they have no documents to prove who they are. The unique 12-digit number is not an open sesame however. It did not help Yattan Bibi open a special public sector bank account for pension of Rs 600 a month under the Delhi government’s Dilli Annshree Yojana. The bank says aadhaar is not a valid proof of residence. It has, instead, asked for a voter ID card or a permanent account number (PAN) card to prove her bonafides.

As different arms of the government work on parallel lines, unnecessary complexities are being created. Officially, aadhaar registration is voluntary but it is implicitly compulsory since there is the threat of denial of services. Enrolment with the National Population Register (NPR), on the other hand is mandatory, and C Chandramouli, Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, who runs NPR has sent out a warning that the time for filling in the Know Your Resident Plus (KYR+) form is running out. The KYR+ will, eventually, result in the ultimate proof of identity, a citizenship card with the aadhaar number on it. Or so we are promised.

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Between the seemingly lax aadhaar of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the stricter KYR+ of NPR, which comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs, is a messy universe of verification and authentication that is complicating the lives of the poor, with no guarantee of the much promised “social inclusion” at the end of it all. If anything, Down To Earth’s investigations have shown that the Unique Identification (UID) programme is as prone to being a tool of exclusion as it is of ensuring the benefits of welfare schemes (see ‘Unique identity crisis’, Down To Earth, May 1-15, 2012). Across the country, workers are being denied their wages because authentication machines fail to match their fingerprints with the UIDAI database. Forget the iris scans because we don’t have the money for such sophisticated machines. Above all is the overarching question of safety and likely misuse of data.

Recently, data of 300,000 applicants containing PAN and biometric information was lost while being uploaded from Mumbai to the UIDAI server in Bengaluru because a hard disk of the Maharashtra government’s IT department crashed. Shocking, said many commentators. But what of the many instances that have come to light of laptops with such data that have gone missing? In spite of the frequency of such data disasters, privacy concerns are being dismissed as elitist. Such questions, goes the official argument, ignore the ground realities of India where millions desperately need an identity of some kind to be part of the system. Yet, in March, the Bombay High Court directed UIDAI and the Union government to respond within three months to a public interest litigation questioning the lack of safeguards in aadhaar.

Now comes an even more troubling disclosure. Legal expert Usha Ramanathan who has been studying the policy and practices of Nilekani’s UIDAI over the past five years, warns that the authority will be a business entity governed by the Companies Act. It is not bound by a law that will recognise the fiduciary role of the state, she warns. In that role, government does not own data.

As Ramanathan explains it, the framework for ownership of data was set out by Nilekani in the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects which he chaired. This group suggested the setting up of National Information Utilities (NIUs) to manage government’s databases through the creation of NIUs which will then “own” the data as private companies with a public purpose. But essentially profit-making would be their goal. While the government would have “strategic control”, NIUs would be at least 51 per cent owned privately. In other words, the data would be privatised after the operations of NIUs are stabilised (with state funding and support, of course). Thereafter, the government would become a “paying customer” whereas NIUs would be “essentially set up as natural monopolies”. How do we deal with such a chilling scenario in a country that has no privacy laws or data protection regulations?

 

 

Woman without dupatta denied Aadhaar photo #UID #WTFnews


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, TNN | May 31, 2013, 05.48 AM IST

 

  • CHENNAI: Is there a dress code to get an Aadhaar card? An incident on Thursday at an enrolment centre in Chennai shows that there indeed may be one, and that it smacks of moral policing.
Lavanya Mohan tweeted that she was sent back by officials who refused to photograph her since she was not wearing a dupatta. “Waited for about an hour to get an Aadhaar card photo done and was sent back in line…because I wasn’t wearing a dupatta,” she tweeted. “Local officers sometimes have their own bizarre rules. It’s nothing to particularly be angry about :),” read another of her tweets. Minutes later, #Dupatta and #Aadhaarcard were the trending topics on Twitter.

MRV Krishna Rao, joint director of census operations, said there was no curb on dress for the Aadhaar photograph.

“Earlier the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had said that shirtless people and those in collarless shirts should not be photographed. But we had requested the UIDAI to withdraw these restrictions as it would affect the customs and traditions of some communities. Now, there is no dress code.”

He admitted that there were some complaints about the dress codes while taking photographs. “Representatives of the brahman community from Kancheepuram recently approached us that they want to be photographed without shirts. So I informed the contractors who were tasked with the drive that no dress code should be insisted upon,” said Krishna Rao.

Lavanya Mohan found support online. Some comments dripped of sarcasm. “Dear Nandan, I want my Aadhaar card but I don’t have a dupatta. Can I use a towel? Yours Sincerely, Sreesanth,” said Ramesh Srivats. “Dupatta for Aadhaar card! Is this the beginning of talibanization of India & Indian democracy?” wondered another

 

 

Duplication woes hit Aadhaar project in Uttar Pradesh #UID


Arunav Sinha, TNN | May 21, 2013, 06.26 AM IST

 

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LUCKNOW: Conceived with the idea to provide an identity to every Indian, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) came into existence in 2009. However, four years down the line, the authority’s website itself has become a victim of duplication, and presents an unclear picture to the public.

What’s more interesting is the fact that the UIDAI’s website gives two different sets of data pertaining to Aadhaar enrolment progress for Congress stronghold of Rae Bareli, one of the 78 districts identified for roll out of Direct Benefit Transfer scheme. Apart from Rae Bareli, the hyperlink giving details of Aadhaar enrolment progress in the state (https://portal.uidai.gov.in/uidwebportal/dashboard.do?st=Uttar%20Pradesh) also mentions dual data for Baghpat, Bulandshahr, Maharajganj, and Sant Ravidas Nagar.

TOI tried to contact UIDAI director general VS Madan but he was unavailable for comment. Thereafter, when this correspondent contacted the deputy director general media, the call was routed to a deputy director ranked official who acknowledged the anomaly, but refused to comment on the point of duplication.

On May 20, at 4.12 pm, Aadhaar enrolment progress of Rae Bareli district was 1,43,877 and that of Raebareli was 15,870. On further tehsil-wise classification, the figures were 63,915 and 12,802 respectively. Another district, where the difference between two sets of Aadhaar enrolment progress data is huge is Baghpat. According to one figure, Baghpat’s Aadhaar enrolment progress was 23,878, while another figure cites it as 757 (on May 19). Similarly, Sant Ravidas Nagar too has different sets of figures – 17,663 and 14,131. Maharajganj, the district which borders Nepal, also boasts of dual identity as far as Aadhaar enrolment progress is concerned. One set of data puts the number at 9,929 (Maharajganj), other puts the same number at 4,573 (Mahrajganj). The western UP district of Bulandshahr, too, has distinct set of Aadhaar enrolment progress. According to one set, the current Aadhaar enrolment progress of Bulandshahar is 53,190; whereas for Bulanshahr, it is 6,122.

Even the daily count of total Aadhaar generated, enrolment applications rejected have two different figures. On May 19, Aadhaar generated for Bara Banki and Barabanki was 76 and 2 respectively, while for Bulandshahar, it was 11 and 58 for Bulandshahr.

Similarly, for Rae Bareli, Aadhaar generation was 67, and it was 10 for Raebareli. Maharajganj too had two sets of Aadhaar generation figures. While, one set put the daily Aadhaar generated figures at 207 (Maharajganj), the other put the same numbers at 3 (Mahrajganj). Apart from these districts, Sant Ravidas Nagar and Sant Ravidas Nagar Bhadohi, too, had different figures of 31 and 5 respectively. However, on May 20, the anomaly pertaining to Barabanki was removed.

 

 

#Aadhaar #UID Your data, going on sale soon #MUSTSHARE


USHA RAMANATHAN, The Hindu 

  • ILLUSTRATION: SATWIK GADE
  • ILLUSTRATION: SATWIK GADE
  • ILLUSTRATION: SATWIK GADE
    ILLUSTRATION: SATWIK GADE

Information being collected for the unique identification project will be sold back to the government through specially created, privatised, for profit utilities

Technology has created the potential to record, collate, converge, retrieve, mine, share, profile and otherwise conjure with data. Data is the new property. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), with its push to enrol the whole Indian resident population, signals the emergence of an information infrastructure facilitated by the government — it finances the “start up,” and uses its authority to coerce people to get on to the database, and then handed over to corporate interests when it reaches a “steady state.”

 

Allowing private entry

 

The UIDAI was set up by an executive notification dated January 28, 2009. The Planning Commission was the nodal agency “for providing logistics, planning and budgetary support” and to “provide initial office and IT infrastructure.” As part of its “role and responsibilities,” the UIDAI was to “issue necessary instructions to agencies that undertake creation of databases, to ensure standardisation of data elements that are collected and digitised and enable collation and correlation with UID [Unique Identification Number/Aadhaar] and its partner databases.” It was to “take necessary steps to ensure collation of NPR [National Population Register] with UID”. And, the UIDAI “shall own and operate” the UID database.

 

When the state holds data it collects in its transactions with its residents, it holds the data in a fiduciary capacity. It does not own the data.

 

The framework for ownership of data was set out by the Nandan Nilekani-chaired Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects (TAG-UP), which gave its report in January 2011. While the Nilekani committee directly addressed five projects — Goods and Services Tax Network, Tax Information Network, Expenditure Information Network, National Treasury Management Agency and the New Pension System — it recommended that the suggested framework “be more generally applicable to the complex IT-intensive systems which are increasingly coming to prominence in the craft of Indian public administration.”

 

As understood by TAG-UP, the government has two major tasks: policymaking and implementation. Implementation is weak, and rather than spend time finding correctives, the committee found in this an opportunity for private business interests. So, TAG-UP suggested the setting up of National Information Utilities (NIUs).

 

“NIUs would be private companies with a public purpose: profit-making, not profit maximising.” The government would have “strategic control,” that is, it would be focused on how it would achieve the objectives and outcomes, leaving the NIU “flexible” in its functioning. Total private ownership should be at least 51 per cent. The government should have at least 26 per cent shares. Once it reaches steady state, the government would be a “paying customer.” As a paying customer, “the government would be free to take its business to another NIU”; though, given the “large upfront sunk-cost, economies of scale, and network externalities from a surrounding ecosystem (and what this means is not explained any further), NIUs are … essentially set up as natural monopolies.” To get a buy-in from the bureaucracy, “in-service officers” are to be deployed in the NIUs and are to be given an allowance of 30 per cent of their remuneration.

 

Government as customer

 

“Once the rollout is completed,” the Nilekani committee blithely states, “the government’s role shifts to that of a customer.”

 

In sum, what emerges from the TAG-UP report is this: governmental data and databases are to be privatised through the creation of NIUs which will then “own” the data. NIUs will be natural monopolies. NIUs will use the data and the database for profit-making and not profit-maximising, and the definition of these terms are indeterminate.

 

Government will support the NIUs through funding them till they reach a steady state, and by doing what is needed to gather the data and create the database using governmental authority. Once the NIU reaches steady state, the government will reappear as the customer of the NIU. Government officers will be deployed in NIUs and be paid 30 per cent over their salaries, which, even if the report does not say it explicitly, is expected to forge loyalties and vested interests. The notion of holding citizens’ data in a fiduciary capacity cedes place to the vesting of ownership over citizens’ data in an entity which will then have the government as their customer.

 

This notion of private companies owning our data has not been discussed with state governments, nor with people from whom information is being collected.

 

Unexplained

 

We might have treated the TAG-UP report as another report without a future; except, in the Budget presented by Mr. Pranab Mukherjee as Finance Minister in March 2012, he announced that the “GSTN (Goods and Sales Tax Network) will be set up as a National Information Utility.” The NIU was not explained to Parliament, and no one seems to have raised any questions about what it is.

 

There is disturbing evidence that the UIDAI provided the basis for the NIU. The report is littered with references to the UIDAI, and suggests that the way the UIDAI has been functioning is a model for the NIU. The Biometrics Standards Committee set up by the UIDAI in September 2009 and which gave its report in December 2009 declared that the UIDAI intended to “create a platform to first collect identity details of residents, and subsequently perform identity authentication services that can be used by government and commercial service providers.” The “UIDAI Strategy Overview,” in April 2010, estimated that it would generate Rs.288.15 crore in annual revenue through address and biometric authentication once it reaches a steady state, where authentication services for new mobile connections, PAN cards, gas connections, passports, LIC policies, credit cards, bank accounts and airline check-in, would net this profit. Till then, it is to be funded by the government. Once that stage is reached, it will be a private, profit-making entity and the government, like other commercial service providers, will become its customer.

 

Data for a price

 

Mr. Nilekani calls it “open architecture”; that is, applications can be thought up as the business grows; there are no limits or contours within which it should be used. He has repeatedly described the UID as a unique number, which will be universal and ubiquitous; the latter two indicate that, despite being marketed as voluntary, all activities and services are intended to be made dependent on the UID for all persons, ensuring steady business for the enterprise. The UID enrolment form has a column for “information sharing consent.” This will allow the UIDAI to part with the data, both demographic and biometric, for a price. This explains why there has been so little enthusiasm for a law on the subject. A Bill was introduced in Parliament close to two years after the project was started. When the Parliamentary Standing Committee rejected the Bill and the project in December 2011, the law was consigned to oblivion.

 

The UIDAI will be a business entity, governed by the Companies Act; not bound by a law that will recognise the fiduciary role of the state, and which will facilitate, and not penalise, a citizen for not having an identity document or number.

 

The 2009 notification that set up the UIDAI says that the UIDAI is to “take necessary steps to ensure collation of NPR with UID.” Registering in the NPR is compulsory under the Citizenship Act and the Citizenship Rules of 2003. Although biometrics is not within the mandate of the NPR, they have also been collected in the process of building up the NPR database. So, the data mandated to be given to the NPR is being handed over to the UIDAI to become the property of the UIDAI, and we don’t even know it!

 

(Usha Ramanathan is an independent law researcher and has been following the policy and practices of the UIDAI since 2009.)

 

 

UIDAI Lucknow office under Supreme Court panel lens for ‘casteism’ #Aadhaar


Arunav Sinha , TNN | May 12, 2013, 03.48 AM
LUCKNOW: Taking cognizance of complaints of ‘ casteism’ practised allegedly within the precincts of the Lucknow regional office of Unique Identification Authority of India, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has asked UIDAI’s regional office, Lucknow to submit a probe report and action it intends to take by May 21.
The May 7 letter issued by the NCSC state office for UP and Uttarakhand seeks the response of the UIDAI Lucknow office by May 21, 2013. TOI has a copy of the letter issued by the NCSC.
The letter’s footnote reads further, “National Commission for Scheduled Castes is a constitutional authority. You are expected to respond within stipulated time, failing which the commission will be constrained to invoke constitutional powers to deal with the matter.”
In his 13-point complaint (a copy of which is with TOI) submitted before the NCSC, a former quality control operator at UIDAI, Vijay Kumar, has alleged he was “harassed” as he is a dalit. In one of the 13 points, he states, “Abhishek Mishra, Assistant, had on a number of occasions prevented me from drinking water before others as I am a dalit. Once when I told Abhishek Mishra about the water cooler not functioning properly, he snubbed me saying if the water cooler is not working properly, I should not complain and instead find some other source for drinking water.”
When contacted, ADG CS Mishra confirmed having received a letter from NCSC, and said, “A probe would be conducted and stringent action would be taken against anyone who is found guilty.”
Vijay also claims that nepotism is rampant in UIDAI. “The blue-eyed boys of assistant director generals (ADGs) CS Mishra and Ashutosh Ojha enjoy a comfortable position in office.” He adds, “The two ADGs and Abhishek Mishra call the shots in this office and routinely harass the staffers. It was precisely the reason I did not dare to open my mouth against them, as I was in an extremely defenceless position.”
Expressing his fear, Vijay says, “I fear threat to life from these senior officials at UIDAI’s Lucknow regional office and they may frame false charges against me. Sadly, my tormentor has been asked to investigate and take action. I hope I get justice.”
Adding weight to the claims of Vijay, four other former staffers of UIDAI Lucknow, who were “sacked”, have lodged a complaint before the National Human Rights Commission alleging harassment by the two ADGs and the assistant. TOI has a copy of the NHRC complaint as well. All the complaints are currently under consideration of the NHRC.
Debashish Gargory, one of the five complainants, says, “We have been made to suffer as we did not follow the diktats of these officials, especially Abhishek Mishra, who works at the behest of the two ADGs.” Gargory adds, “We even tried to raise our concerns before the senior officials of UIDAI Headquarter but we did not get any response to our emails. Finally, on April 13, we decided to move the National Human Rights Commission.” He also alleged manipulating of attendance in the office, and ADGs turning blind eye to it.
As if the complaints of alleged harassment were not enough to highlight a seemingly sad facet of the UIDAI, a number of RTIs addressed to the UID headquarters Delhi and Lucknow regional office also indicate that all is certainly not well.
In one of the RTI applications, the applicant has sought information regarding the justification of providing high-end mobile phones and staff cars to officers who are not eligible for the same. Several other questions in the RTI applications (copy with TOI) hint at rules being possibly tweaked in the name of running a “project”.

 

 

Public clamouring for Aadhaar cards enrolled several months ago #UID


11 May 2013, 1618 hrs IST
Kerala News: P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated.
But it is learnt through officials in Akshaya state-level office, which oversees the generation of Aadhaar cards and other e-district activities, that there is a telling difference, in particular months, between the number of Aadhaar cards Akshaya State office and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) say have been generated in the state, and the actual figures.
The public is approaching Akshaya centres to know the status of their Aadhaar card for which they enrolled several months ago, with the need for Aadhaar cards increasing day by day, so as to avail direct subsidy scheme through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts.
For instance, in the month of October 2012, a PDF file in the UIDAI site says 5,12,977 cards were generated that through the Akshaya Centres in the state, but the state Akshaya office says that the Bangalore Data Centre (BDC) of the UIDAI, has sent them the figure of 3,02,596 for the total number of cards generated in the state; the difference being 2,10,381.
“Only the UIDAI knows about this difference . We have written to BDC officials about the discrepancy. But, ultimately the figures will be tallied in the coming months. We are receiving money for the generated cards as per the UIDAI data. From this amount, money is allotted to the concerned Akshaya entrepreneurs, as per the BDC figures,†said a higher official who in the accounts section of Akshaya. He also said that the ‘surplus’ money allotted by the UIDAI is being kept under the state Akshaya Office.
No Variation
Akshaya entrepreneurs, who have been managing Aadhaar enrolment with other agencies such as the Keltron, have made allegations of financial misappropriation. “There cannot be such variation in the figures. Both the BDC and UIDAI are doing the same work and the BDC, which provides technical support to the UIDAI, cannot give a separate figure. Each of our operators has a separate login id and the number of cards they generate can be clearly found in the UIDAI server. Generated figures are shown less to prevent the entrepreneurs from getting their due payment.
What Akshaya does with the ‘surplus’ UIDAI payment, need to be observed closely,†said a state-level functionary of Akshaya Entrepreneurs Association. Going by just the October data, Akshaya has kept apart as much as Rs 73,63,335 because of the discrepancy in figures. And the total ‘surplus’ money, from September to December 2012, which could be easily calculated by visiting the UIDAI and Akshaya websites, is Rs 89,25,140, entrepreneurs noted.
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told Express on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated. He said that it would not be possible to make cards available to all before July this year.
The Indian government has approved Rs 3,436.16 crore for Phase IV of the UID (Aadhaar card) scheme. This fund includes Rs 1,600 crore to cover the cost of enrolling an additional 40 crore residents, Rs 490 crore updation services, Rs 1,049 crore for printing and dispatch of Aadhaar letters and Rs 247.16 crore towards additional cost for construction of buildings for headquarters, data centers and non-data centers of UIDAI. According to the government report, Phase IV is to commence immediately. The time period to be covered by the funds released is not clear.
The government informed that around 31 crore UID numbers have been issued since September 29, 2010 and it hopes to release another 40 crore numbers by the end of March 2014.
Aadhaar Project Funding
On November 2009, the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) had approved Rs 147.31 crore to be issued during the Phase I of the scheme to meet expenditure in the first 12 months. In Phase II, Rs 3,023.01 crores was approved by the CC-UIDAI on July 22, 2010 to issue 10 crore UID numbers through multiple registrars, other project components and recurring establishment costs up to March 2014. On January 27, 2012, Rs 5791.74 crores was approved by CC-UIDAI for Phase III to issue UID numbers to 20 crore residents through multiple registrars up to March 2012, technology and other support infrastructure costs for creation, storage and maintenance of data and services for leveraging the usage of Aadhaar for the entire estimated resident population up to March 2017.
Aadhaar rollouts till now
It is worth noting that Aadhaar numbers have already been made mandatory including several departments such as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the revenue department. Plans are also being made to integrate issue of ration cards and passports also to individual Aadhaar numbers. In December 2012, five Indian banks had launched an instant prepaid card service called the Saral money service allowing users to open a bank account using their Aadhaar card for know your customer (KYC) validation. UIDAI has further partnered with 15 more banks to use Aadhaar as KYC validation.
In November 2012, Indian Government had announced plans to roll out an Aadhaar based Direct Cash Transfer initiative from January 1, 2013. Following this, all government departments who were transferring cash to individual beneficiaries, will transition to this electronic transfer system based on Aadhaar Payment Platform. This includes all subsidy transfers like education loans, scholarships, MNREGA payments, old age pension, PDS subsidies, LPG subsidies, Indira Awaas Yojna subsidies and fertilizer subsidies.
In October 2012, the government had launched Aadhaar enabled service delivery platform for citizens to access services of various government schemes such as wage payments, payment of social security benefits such as old-age payments, among others. In the same month, Vodafone had also launched a pilot project in Hyderabad using Aadhaar to verify and activate new prepaid and post paid connections.
However, the goofs up in the Aadhaar project also continue. In April 2013, we had reported that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has apparently issued around 3,858 Aadhaar letters with photos of trees, animals or buildings in place of the photos of individuals. In April 2012, UIDAI had apparently issued an Aadhaar card to a fictitious Mr Kothimeer (coriander) with a photo of a mobile phone. In May 2012, the Indian Postal Department had apparently sent back around 50,000 Aadhaar cards issued in Hyderabad, back to the UIDAI due non-existing addresses on the envelopes.

 

Officials find discrepancy in the figures of Aadhaar card generation #UID


 

By Nidhin T R – KOTTAYAM 11th May 2013 08:28 AM
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated. | EPS
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated. | EPS
With the need for Aadhaar cards increasing day by day, so as to avail direct subsidy scheme through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, the public is approaching Akshaya centres to know the status of their Aadhaar card for which they enrolled several months ago.
But it is learnt through officials in Akshaya state-level office, which oversees the generation of Aadhaar cards and other e-district activities, that there is a telling difference, in particular months, between the number of Aadhaar cards Akshaya State office and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) say have been generated in the state, and the actual figures.
For instance, in the month of October 2012, a PDF file in the UIDAI site says 5,12,977 cards were generated that through the Akshaya Centres in the state, but the state Akshaya office says that the Bangalore Data Centre (BDC) of the UIDAI, has sent them the figure of 3,02,596 for the total number of cards generated in the state; the difference being 2,10,381.
“Only the UIDAI knows about this difference . We have written to BDC officials about the discrepancy. But, ultimately the figures will be tallied in the coming months. We are receiving money for the generated cards as per the UIDAI data. From this amount, money is allotted to the concerned Akshaya entrepreneurs, as per the BDC figures,” said a higher official who in the accounts section of Akshaya. He also said that the ‘surplus’ money allotted by the UIDAI is being kept under the state Akshaya Office.
No Variation
Akshaya entrepreneurs, who have been managing Aadhaar enrolment with other agencies such as the Keltron, have made allegations of financial misappropriation. “There cannot be such variation in the figures. Both the BDC and UIDAI are doing the same work and the BDC, which provides technical support to the UIDAI, cannot give a separate figure. Each of our operators has a separate login id and the number of cards they generate can be clearly found in the UIDAI server.  Generated figures are shown less to prevent the entrepreneurs from getting their due payment. What Akshaya does with the ‘surplus’ UIDAI payment, need to be observed closely,” said a state-level functionary of Akshaya Entrepreneurs Association. Going by just the October data, Akshaya has kept apart as much as `73,63,335 because of the discrepancy in figures. And the total ‘surplus’ money, from September to December 2012, which could be easily calculated by visiting the UIDAI and Akshaya websites, is `89,25,140, entrepreneurs noted.
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated.  He said that it would not be possible to make cards available to all before July this year.

 

 

Andhra Pradesh -Biometric information of 14 lakh #Aadhaar applicants goes missing #UID


 | May 1, 2013 | Postnoon

Beware!-Vital-info-missing-3

Biometric information from over 14 lakh people has gone missing. This could lead to vital data falling into criminal hands.

What can be a greater loss to a city than the loss of identities of its citizens? While the Aadhaar card, projected as a “smart mix of politics and economics,” promises to deliver the “one ultimate identity” to all the citizens of India, its progress report in Andhra Pradesh has no reassuring remarks.

Forget ultimate identity, there seems to be no guarantee of our identities anymore.

On April 8, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) publicly agreed that several lakh Aadhaar enrolments and data were lost. What is described as a “technical error” is in reality the loss of biometrics and personal information of 14 lakh Aadhaar card-seeking citizens of Andhra Pradesh.

Over two lakh citizens in Hyderabad have not found their Aadhaar enrolments online. Fearing public backlash, the UIDAI authorities were able to retrieve over seven lakh enrolments through data retrieval, but have been unable to retrieve the other half. Postnoon investigates.

Current Enrolment Status

Even as the deadline for Aadhaar-c link gets closer, there seems to be little or no co-ordination among any of the three major players — the AP civil supplies and district collectorate, private enrolment agencies and the UIDAI — in the Aadhaar game.

“The selling point of this project was the promise of transparency and accountability. Except for the UIDAI’s website, our State government’s civil supplies or district

collectorates do not seem to have found the need to be accountable,” says Raoji Brahmanand, RTI activist and Aadhaar applicant.

The official explanation for the data loss is that private enrolment agencies had employed agents who developed differences over their remuneration and left the project mid way. Some claim that laptops and equipment containing data also went missing.

“But since high encryptions guard the enrolment data and biometrics, it cannot be decrypted. We are trying to retrieve the data currently,” says an official from UIDAI.

According to data gathered by Postnoon from UIDAI and district collectorate authorities, the current population of the City stands at roughly 82 lakh. Out of this, only 53,28,183 have enrolled for Aadhaar and a little over 30 lakh UID numbers have been generated.

Ask why this slow pace of enrolments and loss of data, S Vijaypal, deputy district collector of Hyderabad collectorate says, “No idea. We are only forwarding whatever enrolment data we receive to the State government and UIDAI.”

The morale among officials handling the Aadhaar project is low and it is evident why.

Here are the current statistics of the Aadhaar project in Hyderabad:

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