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NATGRID, UIDAI & NPR Emerging As India’s NSA

By Gopal Krishna

27 December, 2013

Planning Commission’s contract agreement with the consortium consisting of M/s Ernst & Young Private Limited and M/s Netmagic Solutions Pvt Ltd received through RTI reveals that “biometric systems are not 100 % accurate” and “uniqueness of the biometrics is still a postulate.” This startling admission pulverizes the very edifice on which UID/aadhaar and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)’s National Population Register (NPR) rests. This has come to light from the RTI reply dated December 5, 2013.

This establishes beyond reasonable doubt that the ongoing creation of world’s biggest biometric database in the history of mankind is based not only on legally questionable foundation but also on questionable technological assumptions of immortal and immutable nature of biometric data. This assumption stands scientifically debunked even as it faces robust legal challenge in the Supreme Court and in the Parliamentary Committee on Finance.

The contract agreement admits, “The loss in information due to limitations of the capture setup or physical conditions of the body, and due (to) the feature representation, there is a non-zero probability that two finger prints or IRIS prints coming from different individuals can be called a match.” The contract agreement underlines it in bold letters. There appears to be an attempt at verbal gymnastics to hide the key message here. In simple words, “non-zero probability that two finger prints or IRIS prints” turning
out to be a match means that there is a probability that biometric data of two different individuals can be identical.

With this admission which is rooted in scientific evidence articulated earlier as part of this series, there emerges a compelling logic to abandon the exercise of creating database of biometric data for identification in favour of pre-existing 15 identity proofs on which Election Commission of India relies for elections and which has been giving legality and legitimacy to the Parliament and the Government of India.

The description of approach and methodology given the Appendix A: Part C dealing with Contract –UID CIDR Consultant contract agreement with Ernst & Young, a company based in UK, one of the five alliance members of the English-speaking countries (USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) for the purpose of sharing intelligence. Notably, the contract agreement begins with the talisman of Mahatma Gandhi about pondering over how the poorest can get “control over his life and destiny” restored and will have us believe that this is its inspiration to participate in this initiative.

The contract agreement with Ernst & Young states that “the Unique ID will be a random 12-digit number with the basis for establishing uniqueness of identity being biometrics”. It announces that “we will provide a Unique Identity to over 113.9 crore people.” This is evidently a fraudulent announcement because UIDAI with which the agreement has been signed has mandate to provide Unique Identity to only 60 crore residents of India and not to 113.9 crore people. The agreement states that it proposes to adopt Political, Economic, Social, Technology, Legal and Environment (PESTLE) framework to cover all key dimensions of the UID program. This framework merits attention for it tantamount to rewriting the political geography of the country with hitherto unknown consequences for political rights. In an earlier RTI reply dated October 25, 2013, Planning Commission’s UIDAI shared that Ernst & Young order date was February 26, 2010 wherein the value of the contract was mentioned as Rs 7.05 crore.

In a related development United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) which has subjected Manmohan Singh Government to surveillance has been deemed unconstitutional by a US District Court.

The disclosures of classified information made by Edward Snowden, a former contractor at USA’s National Security Agency (NSA) underlines that the ongoing information warfare is directed against countries like India. Under the agreement among the 5 countries interception, collection, acquisition, analysis, and decryption is conducted by each of them for an automatic sharing of intelligence. The contract agreement of Planning Commission with companies like Ernst & Young, Safran Group, Accenture, In-Q-Tel and MongoDB who are from the countries which form part of five eyes alliance are also involved in a similar exercise. The alliance comprises of the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA), the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), and New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). The intelligence partnership was formed in the aftermath of the Second World War ahead of transfer of power to India by UK. The conception of converging “the entire country into one single communication entity” introduced in 1975 and initiated in 1977 with the help of a UN agency whose complicity with these “five eyes” stands exposed needs to be revisited and put on hold.

Besides the Five Eyes with the addition of Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway, it becomes a 9 Eyes alliance for conducting espionage.

The Devyani Khobragade row appear to be a motivated act ahead of the verdict of the US District Court for the District of Columbia pointing out the unconstitutionality of NSA program of indiscriminately collecting electronic data to take the public attention away from this verdict. It has been revealed that our Prime Minister, President and almost all the ministers have all been under the surveillance of NSA.

The verdict was passed on December 16, 2013. The verdict attempts to safeguard the interests of citizens of USA. This is not applicable to non-US citizens because US laws do not recognize the rights of privacy of non-US citizens to be sacrosanct. This implies that rights of privacy of Indian citizens do not have protection either under the Indian laws, US laws or any international law at present.

In the verdict, Judge Richard Leon, U.S. District Court rules, “I cannot imagine a more "indiscriminate" and "arbitrary invasion" than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely such a program infringes on "that degree of privacy" that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware of "the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power," would be aghast.” Madison, the fourth President of USA is considered the father of US Constitution.

This verdict is readily applicable to the “indiscriminate” biometric and demographic databases being created in India by the Planning Commission’s UIDAI and by MHA’s Registrar General & Census Commissioner for NPR besides National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), the Indian incarnation of NSA. Framers of Constitution of India too would be “aghast” at such “systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.” Indeed these initiatives along with the bitterly opposed proposal of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) Network constitutes “abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power” in our country. Political parties and citizens need to examine whether or not NATGRID, UIDAI & NPR emerging as Indian incarnation of NSA.

Notably, both the alliance and the transnational enterprises like Ernst & Young, Sagem Morpho and L1 of Safran Group, Accenture, In-Q-Tel and MongoDB have the capability to directly access internet companies’ data, tapping international fibre optic cables, sabotaging encryption standards and standards bodies, hacking the routers, switches and firewalls that connect the internet together. The facts about their tentacles being present in these countries have been brought to light after the disclosures by Snowden.

The verdict of U.S. District Court against NSA and the disclosures about fallibility of biometric data under RTI and the Snowden’s revelations about the intelligence alliance merits the attention of Supreme Court of India when it hears the case against biometric identification based UID/aadhaar on January 28, 2014.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL),
Mb: 09818089660, E-mail:gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com


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