Black projects like Unique Identity (UID)/Aadhaar & White Paper on Black Money
Hon’ble President of India
Government of India
Subject –Black projects like Unique Identity (UID)/Aadhaar & White Paper on Black Money
This is to draw your attention towards Union Finance Ministry’s 108 page White Paper on Black Money and the role assigned to a black biometric data based Unique Identity (UID)-Aadhaar project, which has been rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance on December 13, 2011 in its report submitted to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The (UID)-Aadhaar project is mentioned at three places in the White Paper.
I submit that besides PSC on Finance, countries like UK, Australia, Philippines and China have abandoned UID-Aadhaar like projects respecting people’s democratic mandate. These projects had also relied on ‘inherently fallible’ biometric technologies.
I submit that there are two public interest litigations pending in the High Courts in Chennai and Mumbai and a civil suit in Karnataka against this project. From the very outset consistent citizens’ campaign has been seeking its abandonment.
I submit that this is with reference to Planning Commission’s ‘voluntary’ database of Indian residents based on biometric data which is linked to country's first ever ‘compulsory’ National Population Register (NPR), a biometric data based comprehensive identity database of ‘usual residents of the country’ to be maintained by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the 15th National Census.
I submit that the UID project is a questionable imitation of initiatives launched by International Financial Institutions (IFIs) like World Bank Group, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), a 28-nation military alliance and Business Enterprise Architecture of USA’s Department of Defense which was designed to assist the transformation.
I submit that not only are all the ideas, initiatives, proposals but also the words, phrases and punctuations being used by proponents of UID-Aadhaar like projects is borrowed from IFIs, NATO and USA’ Department of Defense.
I submit that the idea of UID/Aadhaar Number proposed by UIDAI is a replication of Pakistan's National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) that was established in March 2000 to provide integrated homeland security solutions in Pakistan. The program replaced the paper based Personal Identity System of Pakistan that had been in use since 1971.This year is also quite important. NADRA violated fundamental human rights in Pakistan. UIDAI violates fundamental human rights in India.
In such a backdrop, it is indeed quite disturbing that Shri Ajit Kumar Seth, Cabinet Secretary, Government of India, Admiral Nirmal Varma, Chief of Naval Staff, Shri Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Chief Minister Haryana and Dalai Lama have already enrolled for UID/Aadhaar Number without the passage of the NIAI Bill. I submit that Union Ministry of Defence should be asked to examine the implications of such initiatives as well.
I submit that in the preface to the White Paper at page 3, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Union Finance Minister writes, “The steps taken in recent years for simplifying and placing the administrative procedures concerning taxation, trade and tariffs and social transfers on UID based electronic interface, free of discretion and bureaucratic delays, are vital building blocks of the approach for tackling corruption and black money in our country.” The fact is step of social transfers on UID based interface is without any legislative mandate. It is a step with black motives. It is not surprising that this biometric-based identification system for preventing leakages, duplication and corruption remains constantly mired in controversies.
I submit that in his 2009-10 Budget Speech, Shri Mukherjee said, “The UIDAI will set up an online data base with identity and biometric details of Indian residents and provide enrolment and verification services across the country.” May I ask whether or not “online data base” of residents of India (inclusive of citizens) safeguard the sovereignty of the Republic?
I submit that under the chapter, ‘Creating an appropriate legislative framework’ the White Paper elaborates on the role of the Unique Identity (UID)-Aadhaar project. The relevant text of the White Paper at page 49 reads: “As announced by the Finance Minister in his Budget speech, enrolments into the Aadhaar system have crossed 20 crore and the Aadhaar numbers generated up to date 14 crore. Adequate funds have been allocated for completing another 40 crore enrolments starting from 1 April 2012. The Aadhaar platform will facilitate payments under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MG-NREGA); old age, widow and disability pensions; and scholarships to be made directly into beneficiary accounts in selected areas. This initiative will cut down corruption and the generation of black money in India.” It is ironical that Unique Identity (UID)-Aadhaar project is mentioned under the title ‘Creating an appropriate legislative framework’ because its Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) is being prepared outside any ‘appropriate legislative framework’.
I submit that the biometric data based ‘20 crore enrollments’ and 14 crore Aadhaar numbers generated so far are illegal. It is in contempt of Parliament. These figures do not appear to be reliable because there are several inconsistencies.
I submit that the idea of UID-Aadhaar is against our constitution. Shri Nandan Manohar Nilekani in his book Imagining India has argued that national ID system would be a big step for land markets to facilitate right to property and undoing of abolition of right to property in 1978 in order to bring down poverty!.
I submit that the Government, the Parliament and the citizens must not be misled by unelected cabinet minister ranked officials who say, “Technology has no history and no bias, it treats everyone the same way.”
I submit that our collective colonial experience and the history of technologies have revealed that it is the owners of such technologies who are true beneficiaries especially when it is used for social control and surveillance. I submit that the project is aimed at creating a perfect common land and water market among other things.
I submit that there is a compelling need to urgently assess the claims and risks of blindly trusting biometric, surveillance and identification technology companies who have made UID appear politically persuasive for the gullible ruling parties by cleverly intertwining it with the crying need for governance.
I submit that at page 75-76 the White Paper says, “While efforts such as UID and direct transfer of subsidies will stop leakages in some sectors, in other sectors the problem will have to be addressed differently” under the title ‘Strategies for Curbing Generation of Black Money through Illegal or Criminal Activities.’ I submit that whether or not biometric, surveillance, identification and security technology companies are involved in amassing Black Money as part of Black Economy-through electoral finance and other unrecorded means- is yet to be conclusively established.
I submit that under the Recommendations of the Committee Headed by Chairman, Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Black Money, at page 84 it reiterates: “The steps taken in recent years for simplifying and placing the administrative procedures concerning taxation, trade and tariffs and social transfers on UID based electronic interface, free of discretion and bureaucratic delays, are vital building blocks of the approach for tackling corruption and black money in our country.”
I submit that the Union Finance Ministry should be dissuaded from relying on illegal biometric profiling of citizens which is being done under UID-Aadhaar project. In fact, there is a need to set up a high powered independent commission to examine the impact of high-risk biometric, surveillance, identification and security technologies and threats to civil liberties and country’s security and sovereignty.
I submit that it has reliably been learnt that officials from companies like Infosys Technologies have been giving leadership training to leaders of the ruling parties. This may have impacted decision making with regard to UID-Aadhaar. It is noteworthy that the original vision document for Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) prepared by Wipro Technologies Ltd in 2006 is missing. This merits probe.
I submit that recent news reports of efforts to put Union Finance Minister and Union Defence Minister under surveillance by unidentified agencies reveal that there is paucity of capacity to monitor or regulate these technologies. If this is the plight of the ministers and technologically challenged political class, the threat for citizens can easily be understood.
I submit that Union Government must be persuaded to review its capacity to regulate an emerging identification technology regime that is undermining democracy and sovereignty.
I submit that unfolding of World Bank Group’s eTransform Initiative with support from global partners such as Gemalto, IBM, L-1 Identity Solutions, Microsoft and Pfizer and two national governments of France and South Korea since April 2010 for implementing its Tranformational Government project to converge private sector, public sector and citizens sector.
I submit that the US biometric, identification and security technology company, L-1 Identity Solutions which was given contact by UIDAI on July 30, 2010 has been purchased by French company Safran Group whose subsidiary too had been awarded a contract on July 30, 2010 after national security clearance from US Senate Committee. This company is also in the business of biometric, identification and security technologies with French government having major investment in it. This company is in long term agreement with China as well.
I submit that it has come to light that Shri Nilekani who heads Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in the rank of a Cabinet Minister was given ID Limelight Award at the ID WORLD International Congress in Italy. The key sponsors of Congress include Morpho (Safran group), a French multinational corporation specializing in ID credentials solutions incorporating biometrics application in passports, visas, ID documents, health and social benefits, elections, etc. Its subsidiary, Sagem Morpho Security Pvt. Ltd has been awarded contract for the purchase of Biometric Authentication Devices on February 2, 2011 by the UIDAI. Earlier, on July 30, 2010, in a joint press release, it was announced that “the Mahindra Satyam and Morpho led consortium has been selected as one of the key partners to implement and deliver the Aadhaar program by UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India).” This means that at least two contracts have been awarded to the French conglomerate led consortium. May I ask whether it is a coincidence that Morpho (Safran group) sponsored the award to Chairman, UIDAI and the former got a contract from the latter?
I submit that Shri Nilekani was given the award at the ID WORLD International Congress in 2010 held in Milan during November 16-18, 2010. One of the two Platinum Sponsors was Morpho (Safran group), a French high-technology company with three core businesses: Aerospace, Defense and Security. Coincidentally, this Global Summit on Automatic Identification in 2009 had awarded Shri Tariq Malik, Deputy Chairman of Islamabad based National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) too for implementing UID project in Pakistan.
I submit that Shri Nilekani was given the award "For being the force behind a transformational project ID project in India...and "to provide identification cards for each resident across the country and would be used primarily as the basis for efficient delivery of welfare services. It would also act as a tool for effective monitoring of various programs and schemes of the Government." There is a conflict of interest and it appears to be an act done in lieu of the contract.
I submit that UIDAI awarded contracts to three companies namely, Satyam Computer Services Ltd. (Mahindra Satyam), as part of a “Morpho led consortium”, L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company and Accenture Services Pvt. Ltd of USA for the “Implementation of Biometric Solution for UIDAI” on July 30, 2010. L-1 Identity Solutions, Inc. is in the business of protecting and securing personal identities and assets. It claims that with the confidence in individual identities provided by L-1 to international governments, federal and state agencies, law enforcement and commercial businesses can better guard the public against global terrorism, crime and identity theft fostered by fraudulent identity. It is germane to note that L-1’s Intelligence Services Businesses were sold to BAE Systems, Inc. (the U.S. affiliate of BAE Systems plc).
I wish to inform that on September 20, 2010, L-1 Identity Solutions announced that it has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Safran in a merger transaction. As a result both Morpho led consortium and L-1 Identity Solutions who were awarded contracts are under Safran group company. Safran is a leading international high-technology group with three core businesses: Aerospace (propulsion and equipment), Defence and Security. The transaction was subject to review by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency committee of the United States Government that reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in U.S. companies or operations among other conditions. CFIUS notified on July 19, 2011 that “there are no unresolved national security concerns with respect to the transaction”.
I wish you to advice the Union Cabinet and the Parliament to scrutinize the roles of these companies which are involved in UID-Aadhaar like projects.
I submit that manifest short term and long term foreign interest in the UID-Aadhaar project is aimed at creating ‘solutions architecture’ through linguistic corruption in the form of proposed National Information Utilities (NIUs) by Union Finance Ministry’s Technology Advisory Group on Unique projects. These NIUs are envisaged as private companies with public purpose and with profit making as the motive but not profit maximizing. The construction of this sentence betrays the ulterior motives of vested interests. It appears that words indeed have meaning, which the masters give to it a classic case of nominalism, a tendency of the ruling elite to decide on the meaning of a word.
Let me take the opportunity to also submit that the new Chief Election Commissioner, Shri V.S. Sampath may be advised to rescind the dangerous proposal of Shri S.Y. Quraishi, his predecessor to Union Ministry of Home Affairs asking it “to merge the Election ID cards with UID”.
I submit that such an exercise would mean rewriting and engineering the electoral ecosystem with the unconstitutional and illegal use of biometric technology in a context where electoral finance has become source of corruption and black money in the country. This would lead to linking of UID, Election ID and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which is not as innocent and as politically neutral as it has been made out to be. It is noteworthy that all EVMs have a UID as well. This proposal makes a mockery of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance on UID Bill. It is noteworthy that Land Titling Bill, 2011 makes a provision for linking land titles to UIDs of Indian residents/citizens.
I submit that in UID/Aadhaar Enrolment Form, Column 9 reads: "I have no objection to the UIDAI sharing information provided by me to the UIDAI with agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services". In front of this column, there is a "Yes" and "No" option.
I submit that irrespective of what option residents of India exercise (which is being ticked automatically by the enroler in any case as of now), the fact is this information being collected for creating Centralized Identity Data Register (CIDR) and National Population Register (column 7) are being handed over to biometric technology companies like Satyam Computer Services/Sagem Morpho, L1 Identities Solutions and Accenture Services of all shades who have already been awarded contracts.
I wish to draw your urgent attention towards the reply of Shri Davinder Kumar, Deputy Director UIDAI who will have residents/ citizens of India believe that the three transnational biometric technology companies working with foreign intelligence agencies namely:1) Mahindra Satyam Computer Services/Sagem Morpho, 2) L1 Identities Solutions and 3) Accenture Services who were awarded contracts by UIDAI that “There are no means to verify whether the said companies are of US origin or not” in a reply to Right to Information (RTI) application dated 21st July, 2011. This is quite a stark act of omission and commission that is likely to put residents/citizens of India under surveillance using delivery of public services as fish bait for ever.
I submit that Planning Commission and Shri Nilekani should be asked to verify whether they know the country of origin of the award and the country of origin of their sponsors who were awarded contract by UIDAI prior to taking the award. Had Shri Nilekani known about their country of origin, would he have taken the award? Now that the information has become public knowledge what is it that the Planning Commission and UIDAI intend to do about it?
I wish to inform UIDAI officials the “means to verify” the country of the origin of three companies in questions. The first company Morpho’s website is http://www.morpho.com/qui-sommes-nous/implantations-internationales/morpho-en-inde/?lang=en The information at the website of Morpho http://www.morpho.com/evenements-et-actualites-348/presse/mahindra-satyam-and-morpho-selected-to-deliver-india-s-next-generation-unique-identification-number-program?lang=en and Safran www.safran-group.com reveals its partnership with Mahindra Satyam.
The second company, L1 Identities Solutions is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S website and its press releases at http://ir.l1id.com/releases.cfm?header=news reveal that the company received $24.5 Million in Purchase Orders in the Initial Phase of India's Unique Identification Number Program for Certified Agile TP(TM) Fingerprint Slap Devices and Mobile-Eyes(TM) Iris Cameras. http://ir.l1id.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=509971). I submit that as a consequence of Safran’s purchase of L-1 Identity Solutions, the de-duplication contracts of UIDAI’s CIDR which was given to two companies on July 30, 2010, both contracts are with one company now.
I submit that Union Government and Parliament do not appear to have taken into account the uncertain corporate world of acquisitions and mergers. It seems to be part of unfolding of a surveillance movement based on global ID card. Commenting on the merger of the two biometric technology companies, Mark Lerner, the author of the book “Your Body is Your ID” says, “Safran is a French company, 30% owned by the French government”. Safran has a 40 year partnership with China in the aerospace and the security sectors too.
I submit that the third company, Accenture, a US company headquartered in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. It won US Department of Homeland Security’s contract for five years to design and implement the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program based on biometric technology for checking identities of foreigners visiting USA. The contract includes five base years plus five option years mandated by U.S. Congress for Smart Border Alliance project. It is one of the main privatized gatekeepers of US borders.
I also wish to draw your immediate attention towards the attached Aadhaar Enrolment Form. There are ten columns in the Form seeking information. Column 7 refers to Union Home Ministry’s National Population Register and 9 which is linked to Centralized Identity Data Register (CIDR) of UID/Aadhaar, which is to be supervised by yet to be born NIAI. It is a strange case of the child- the UID/Aadhaar- having become more than 4 years old but the legislature, the parent is yet to take charge. It is evident that UIDAI is displaying manifest contempt towards Parliament. Residents of India are being enrolled for UID-Aadhaar without the passage of the required legislation.
I wish to draw your attention towards the fact that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) too has expressed grave concerns discrimination, protection of information and identity theft in its written submission. It is reported in NHRC newsletter, August 2011 at page no. 7 and 8.
I submit that it appeared quite clear as to how a stage-managed opinion poll of The Times of India showed that 41 % of Indians oppose Aadhaar/UID Number and the rest support it. Does The Economic Times realize that legislators and citizens can see through the half page advertisement that UIDAI gave to The Times of India on page no. 21 on October 8, 2011 of New Delhi edition and a quid pro quo involved? If one looks at even the biased opinion poll that was influenced by the advertisement from the UIDAI, it is clear that at least 41 % of India's population is opposed to UID/Aadhaar. When publications and news channels get dictated by advertisements then truth in general and legislative truth in particular has become a casualty.
I also wish to bring a book SpyChips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID by Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre to your notice. The authors forewarn us of how we are being made to "imagine a world of no privacy. Where your every purchase is monitored and recorded in a database and your every belonging is numbered. Where someone many states away or perhaps in another country has a record of everything you have ever bought. What's more, they can be tracked and monitored remotely". It has been contended that Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) will impact our civilization in a deeper way than printing press, industrial revolution, light bulb, Internet and personal computers. The introduction of RFID marks the beginning of a world where everything and every place gets imbedded with RFID or spying micro chips.
I submit that RFID and UID projects appear to be doing almost exactly the same thing which the predecessors of Adolf Hitler did, else how is it that Germany always had the lists of Jewish names even prior to the arrival of the Nazis? The Nazis got these lists with the help of IBM which was in the 'census' business that included racial census that entailed not only count the Jews but also identifying them. At the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, there is an exhibit of an IBM Hollerith D-11 card sorting machine that was responsible for organising the census of 1933 that first identified the Jews.
I submit that RFID tags, part of biometric data mentioned in the NIAI Bill is world-readable. It poses a risk to both personal location, privacy, national and military security of the country. India's corporate media seems quite indulgent towards the emergence of a technology-based social control regime due to "Paid News" phenomena, it is for you and the legislature to bring them under control by revealing the true nature of biometric data based RFID and related identification exercises like UID.
I submit that unmindful of the erosion of federal structure of the State Governments have been misled into signing MoUs with the UIDAI. For instance, Smaarftech Technologies, a company that provides e-governance solutions was assigned to do the job in Bihar for carrying out the Proof of Concept study. The iris recognition device that is being used by them comes from Florida-based Crossmatch Technologies, and is used by agencies like NASA and the Department of Homeland Security in the US. State governments have not been informed about its implications and they have not applied their legal imagination to fathom the threats from UID-Aadhaar related proposals.
I submit that on March 16, 2011 MoU was signed between Planning Commission’s UIDAI led by Shri Nandan Manohar Nilekani and Union Home Ministry’s Registrar General of National Population Register (NPR), Dr C Chandramouli for convergence of their respective data. It may be noted that Dr Chandramouli is also the ex-officio Census Commissioner of India. As a consequence a deliberate but a major lapse has occurred which needs to be urgently rectified. Under law the census data is confidential which cannot be given even to the courts but data collected for NPR is not confidential.
I wish to inform that "The Census process involves visiting each and every household and gathering particulars by asking questions and filling up Census Forms. The information collected about individuals is kept absolutely confidential. In fact this information is not accessible even to Courts of law."Reference: http://censusindia.gov.in/2011-FAQ/FAQ-Public.html But UID and NPR have violated the promised confidentiality. A careful reading of even the FAQ reveals it. This means that data of UIDAI, NPR and Census is being converged without any legal mandate. Thus, it was not surprising that the National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill, 2010 that has been rejected by PSC, made a provision in it to seek the rubber stamp of the Parliament for all the acts of omission and commission (as per Section 57 of the Bill) by UIDAI since January 28, 2009 when it was set up as per a notification of Planning Commission.
I submit that these acts of convergence will undermine the constitutional rights and change the meaning of democracy as we know it. It is an act of changing both the form and content of democracy and democratic rights in a new technology based regime where technologies and technology companies are beyond regulation because they are bigger than the government and legislatures.
I submit that the old maxim, 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear' has been given a very public burial. Database State, a report from the United Kingdom states, 'In October 2007, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs lost two discs containing a copy of the entire child benefit database. Suddenly issues of privacy and data security were on the front page of most newspapers and leading the TV news bulletins. The millions of people affected by this data loss, who may have thought they had nothing to hide, were shown that they do have much to fear from the failures of the database state.' No one knows for sure whether it was lost or sold.
I submit that there is a history of attempts by the old and new colonial and imperial powers to number human beings, create a database and put present and future generations under constant surveillance.
In view of the above, I urge you to advise the Union Government to desist from pursuing biometric data based UID-Aadhaar like projects. I also wish to take the opportunity to seek an appointment for a citizens’ delegation to meet you to share relevant documents in this regard.
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL)
A 124/6, Ist Floor
Mb: 08002263335, 09818089660
Secretary to the President of India
Vice President, Government of India
Cabinet Secretary, Government of India
Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Cabinet Committee on Security, Government of India
Chief Minister, Government of Bihar
Chief Minister, Government of Tripura
Chief Minister, Government of Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister, Government of Tamil Nadu
Chief Minister, Government of Punjab
Chief Minister, Government of Goa
Chief Minister, Government of Wesr Bengal
Chief Minister, Government of Madhya Pradesh
Chief Minister, Government of Odisha
Chief Minister, Government of Jharkhand
Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India
Comptroller & Auditor General of India
Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs
Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance
Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law & Justice
Chairman, Public Accounts Committee
Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence
Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs
Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture
Hon’ble Members of Parliament
Lt Governor, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi
Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh
Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar
Chief Secretary, Government of Chattisgarh
Chief Secretary, Government of Goa
Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat
Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana,
Chief Secretary, Government of Himachal Pradesh
Chief Secretary, Government of Jammu and Kashmir
Chief Secretary, Government of Jharkhand
Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka
Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala
Chief Secretary, Government of Madhya Pradesh
Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra
Chief Secretary, Government of Orissa
Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab
Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan
Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu
Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh
Chief Secretary, Government of Uttarakhand
Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal
Chief Secretary, Government of Puducherry
Chief Secretary, Government of Arunachal Pradesh
Chief Secretary, Government of Assam
Chief Secretary, Government of Manipur
Chief Secretary, Government of Meghalaya
Chief Secretary, Government of Mizoram
Chief Secretary, Government of Nagaland
Chief Secretary, Government of Sikkim
Chief Secretary, Government of Tripura
Chief Secretary, Government of Andaman and Nicobar (UT)
Administrator, Government of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (UT)
Administrator, Government of Daman and Diu (UT)
Administrator, Government of Lakshadweep (UT)