Press Invite: "Scrap UID" Campaign
The UID Project
Venue: Press Club, New Delhi
Date: 28 September, 2010 Time: 12 noon
You are sincerely invited to the press conference on the UID Project, which will be addressed by Justice A.P.Shah, Upendra Baxi, Nikhil Dey, Uma Chakravarthi, Shohini Ghosh, Prof. Jagdeep S. Chhokar, Amar Kanwar, Reetika Khera, Praful Bidwai and Bezwada Wilson to discuss a project that has the potential to transform the state-citizen relationship and will affect every resident.
The UID project, to give every resident a Unique Identity Number, has been initiated without any prelude: there is no project document; there is no feasibility study; there has been no cost: benefit analysis; there are serious concerns about data and identity theft. The UID project has proceeded so far without any legal authorization, on the basis of an executive order, that could change the status of the people in this country, with effects on our security and constitutional rights, and a consideration of all aspects of the project should be undertaken with this in mind.
Concerned citizens have raised questions about the
· Undemocratic process
· Privacy (It is only now that the DoPT is said to be working on a draft of a privacy law, but nothing is out for discussion even yet)
· Surveillance: where this technology, and the existence of the UID number, and its working, could result in increasing the potential for surveillance
· Convergence, including by companies, which may be expected to collate information about each individual with the help of the UID number.
National IDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia and the newly-elected British government. The reasons have predominantly been: costs and privacy. In the UK, the Home Secretary explained that they were abandoning the project because it would otherwise be `intrusive bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the `servant’ of the people, and not their `master’. In the late nineties, the Supreme Court of Philippines struck down a biometric based national ID system as unconstitutional on two grounds – the overreach of the executive over the legislative powers of the congress and invasion of privacy. The same is applicable in India – UIDAI has been constituted on the basis of a GoI notification and there is a fundamental risk to civil liberties with the convergence of UID, NATGRID and the National Population Register.
Seventeen eminent signatories, Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India, Prof Romila Thapar, Historian, K.G.Kannabiran, Senior Civil Liberties Lawyer, Kavita Srivastava, PUCL and Right to Food Campaign, Aruna Roy, MKKS, Rajasthan, Nikhil Dey, MKKS, Rajasthan, S.R.Sankaran, Retired Secretary, Government of India, Deep Joshi, Independent Consultant, Upendra Baxi, Jurist and ex-Vice Chancellor of Universities of Surat and Delhi, Uma Chakravarthi, Historian, Shohini Ghosh, Teacher and Film Maker, Amar Kanwar, Film Maker, Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan, Trilochan Sastry, IIMB, and Association for Democratic Reforms, Prof. Jagdeep S. Chhokar , ex- IIMA, and Association for Democratic Reforms, Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Justice A.P.Shah, Retired Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi, ask that:
· The project be halted
· A feasibility study be done covering all aspects of this issue
· Experts be tasked with studying its constitutionality
· The law on privacy be urgently worked on (this will affect matters way beyond the UID project)
· A cost : benefit analysis be done
· A public, informed debate be conducted before any such major change be brought in.