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How foolproof is Aadhaar? Does it serve the purpose that was claimed?
Aadhaar, which is used as a tool under the Digital India movement, is ending up excluding rather than including eligible beneficiaries of government subsidies and programmes and has the potential to unleash undetectable financial crimes, was the broad conclusion of Prof Dr Usha Ramanathan and Dr Anupam Saraph. They were speaking at a seminar on "Legal issues that will arise if individual identity and biometrics are compromised" organised by Moneylife Foundation at Mumbai.
Highlighting the risk factors associated with Aadhaar, Dr Saraph says, "It is shocking to know that the biometrics used in Aadhaar are stored by the enrolment agencies. Last month, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) itself in a notice to some agencies notes this risk. What is more shocking is with the stored biometrics data, any transaction can be performed without the person's physical presence."
"Unlike other documents, like the passport, and driving license, which are issued by the government, the UIDAI letter is not signed by anyone. This on other words, mean, when the government official sign and puts up the official seal, he or she is taking responsibility of the data or information recorded. In case of Aadhaar, there is no verification, no authentication or auditing of the information collected by private agencies and hence, there is no sign or seal of any government official," he added.
Dr Saraph, also discussed alternative ways to use legal or police mechanisms to protect individual and national risk from Aadhaar. He stated people who are threatening to submit Aadhaar can resist it by writing letters to the concerned authority. He had written an article on resisting violation of the Supreme Court order in the Aadhaar matters. (Read: Resisting violations of the Supreme Court Orders on Aadhaar)
Dr Usha Ramanathan gave an overview of the issues that are already there before various courts in the country. She also highlighted the responsibility before the judiciary as well as the investigation agencies to protect the rights of individuals and the sovereignty of the country. 
Calling the government savings in subsidy through subsidy as a 'gimmick', she says, nobody wants to talk about those whose fingerprints were not detected or there was a mismatch in Aadhaar number. "This is misinterpreted as savings on subsidies. They even side lined the report from CAG, which clearly stated that the savings of about Rs1700 crore in LPG distribution was not because of Aadhaar or stopping leakages, but it was due to reduction in oil prices in global markets,"
Dr Ramanathan feels through the enforced use of Aadhaar, data points are being created to design and sell products to people who does not even have the basic knowledge of this digital thing. "Technology is now helping them to hide corruption. Increased dependence on technology is making sure that there are no administrators or government officials present on field to know, understand practical problems faced by people. There is no grievance redressal system on this digital thing," she added.
Both speakers also responded to the charges made by Mr Nandan Nilekani, founder of Aadhaar.  The meeting was attended by several senior lawyers and activists.



Rajan Vaswani

5 months ago

Highlighting the issue with Aadhar is fine, but what is the solution to fix it, as it is this big elephant in the room that is visible to all?

In my opinion, there can be trust levels placed on the aadhar data. For example, if the aadhar biometric has matched with the passport authentication and the passport is signed and hooked to that aadhar number, that is the highest possible trust that can place on the aadhar data.

Where this has not happened, aadhar data, unsigned by any govt. official will stand as no trust. "No trust" data needs additional validation to be authenticated, which is bypassed, as aadhar is used as basis of eKYC for phones, etc. leading to no trust being used as proof, whose identity data cannot be vouched for, although the biometric identifies to that physical individual, albeit not to other information about that individual.

Whilst capturing the data is something the government outsourced, the verification of it is a sovereign function of the state, which again was outsourced. Verifying aadhar identities via additional source like passport, where biometrics are captured, will partly fix the issue, but it is a long haul as there will be several aadhar holders without passports, to go to 100 per cent trust. Maybe, the government now undertakes the clean up for those whose aadhar data is not verified by it.

Mukesh kamath

5 months ago

Lpg gas consumption has increased. While there is a cap per connection this implies more people are using lpg. More over 1.8 crore consumers have given it up. Why no mention of that? Those with concerns of privacy can opt to lock their biometrics so that no one can misuse. India stack has provisions of consent mechanism and i am sure a privacy law to govern it will come our way soon.

No red beacon vehicles for Punjab ministers, officials
Chandigarh, The Punjab cabinet, in its first meeting here on Saturday, decided that the Chief Minister, legislators and top officials will not use a red beacon on their official vehicles.
Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal told the media after the meeting that the Chief Minister, ministers and legislators will also not lay foundation stones and won't do inaugurations.
"Even for big projects of Rs 100 crore or Rs 200 crore, the names of the Chief Minister and ministers will not be displayed (on the foundation or inauguration stones). It will carry only one line saying that the project has been executed with the money of the taxpayers," Badal said.
The Amarinder Singh-led Congress government assumed charge in Punjab on March 16 after the party swept the state assembly polls on March 11, winning 77 out of 117 assembly seats.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.


Fired US Attorney Preet Bharara Said to Have Been Investigating HHS Secretary Tom Price

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was removed from his post by the Trump administration last week, was overseeing an investigation into stock trades made by the president's health secretary, according to a person familiar with the office.


Tom Price, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, came under scrutiny during his confirmation hearings for investments he made while serving in Congress. The Georgia lawmaker traded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shares in health-related companies, even as he voted on and sponsored legislation affecting the industry.


Price testified at the time that his trades were lawful and transparent. Democrats accused him of potentially using his office to enrich himself. One lawmaker called for an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, citing concerns Price could have violated the STOCK Act, a 2012 law signed by President Obama that clarified that members of Congress cannot use nonpublic information for profit and requires them to promptly disclose their trades.


The investigation of Price's trades by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which hasn't been previously disclosed, was underway at the time of Bharara's dismissal, said the person.


Bharara was one of 46 U.S. attorneys asked to resign after Trump took office. It is standard for new presidents to replace those officials with their own appointees. But Bharara's firing came as a surprise because the president had met with him at Trump Tower soon after the election. As he left that meeting, Bharara told reporters Trump asked if he would be prepared to remain in his post, and said that he had agreed to stay on.


When the Trump administration instead asked for Bharara's resignation, the prosecutor refused, and he said he was then fired. Trump has not explained the reversal, but Bharara fanned suspicions that his dismissal was politically motivated via his personal Twitter account.


"I did not resign," he wrote in one tweet over the weekend. "Moments ago I was fired."


"By the way," Bharara said in a second tweet, "now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like."


Bharara was referring to a commission that was launched by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013 to investigate state government corruption, only to be disbanded by the governor the next year as its work grew close to his office. In that case, Bharara vowed to continue the commission's work, and eventually charged Cuomo associates and won convictions of several prominent lawmakers.


Bharara referred questions from ProPublica to the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of New York. A spokesperson there declined to comment. The Justice and Health and Human Services departments also didn't respond to requests for comment.


A White House spokesperson didn't respond to questions about whether Trump or anyone in his cabinet was aware of the inquiry into Price's trades.


In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Price traded more than $300,000 worth of shares in health companies over a recent four-year period, while taking actions that could have affected those companies. Price, an orthopedic surgeon, chaired the powerful House Budget Committee and sat on the Ways and Means Committee's health panel.


In one case, Price was one of just a handful of American investors allowed to buy discounted stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics — a tiny Australian company working on an experimental multiple sclerosis drug. The company hoped to be granted "investigational new drug" status from the Food and Drug Administration, a designation that expedites the approval process.


Members of congress often try to apply pressure on the FDA. As ProPublica has reported, Price's office has taken up the causes of health care companies, and in one case urged a government agency to remove a damaging drug study on behalf of a pharmaceutical company whose CEO donated to Price's campaign.


Innate Immunotherapeutics' CEO Simon Wilkinson told ProPublica that he and his company have not had any contact with American law enforcement agencies and have no knowledge of authorities looking at Price's stock trades.


Another transaction that drew scrutiny was a 2016 purchase of between $1,001 and $15,000 in shares of medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet. CNN reported that days after Price bought the stock, he introduced legislation to delay a regulation that would have hurt Zimmer Biomet.


Price has said that trade was made without his knowledge by his broker.


In a third case, reported by Time magazine, Price invested thousands of dollars in six pharmaceutical companies before leading a legislative and public relations effort that eventually killed proposed regulations that would have harmed those companies.


Louise Slaughter, a Democratic Congress member from New York who sponsored the STOCK Act, wrote in January to the SEC asking that the agency investigate Price's stock trades. "The fact that these trades were made and in many cases timed to achieve significant earnings or avoid losses would lead a reasonable person to question whether the transactions were triggered by insider knowledge," she wrote.


What federal authorities are looking at, including whether they are examining any of those transactions, is not known.


Along with the Price matter, Bharara's former office is investigating allegations relating to Fox News, and has been urged by watchdog groups to look into payments Trump has received from foreign governments through his Manhattan-based business. Bharara's former deputy, Joon Kim, is now in charge of the office, but Trump is expected to nominate his replacement within weeks.


ProPublica reporters Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott and research editor Derek Kravitz contributed to this story.


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