Aadhaar/UIDAI and the road to slavery

Found on social media

This is the current conundrum facing the Supreme Court.

The dangers of Aadhaar/UIDAI isn’t about privacy or data security alone. It is far bigger. It is about how much power you as an individual, surrender to the government.

To those who support Aadhaar and/or the government, indulge me for a moment. Imagine, and I repeat imagine, for a moment that there is an anti-BJP or Congress government at the Centre or worse, an Army general who manages a coup and then declares an Emergency. The last time it happened, opposition leaders, including LK Advani or George Fernandes went underground. They masked their identity, travelled across the country, raised money and garnered people’s support for their activities against the government. None of this will be possible any more.

Under such a circumstance, just switching off your cell phone won’t be sufficient to avoid the government tracking you down. Thanks to Aadhaar, you won’t be able to withdraw money or make any transaction using even a debit card. The government is linking Aadhaar to train tickets and boarding passes. You won’t be able to travel.
Being a centralized database, it just takes a few seconds to switch off your Aadhaar authentication. That can deny you your own money, deny you any movement, deny you any form of communication. You can’t hide behind an alias. It is linked to your biometrics. The government doesn’t need to even arrest you. It can just deny your existence in a matter of few seconds. You aren’t dead, but you can be termed dead in a matter of few seconds. You can be Switched Off!

As databases get more and more linked – property cards, tax filings, joint bank accounts, school admissions, – it takes another few seconds to identify your family members. And extend the same denial of existence to your family, friends or anyone who you have done any relationship with. Switch them off!

Such acts don’t even require a declaration of Emergency. A Facebook post that isn’t liked by someone powerful enough can trigger this in a matter of moments. Switch Off.

The problem with Aadhaar is that it is centralized, and it owns you. You don’t have access to your own trail or data, but someone else has unilateral access to you, anytime. And it stores data, for seven years or even more. No law is sufficient. Aadhaar shouldn’t exist.

We don’t need rights or protection for Achhe Din. Rights and protection are meant for the bad times. But it is during the good times, it is important to not lose sight of how bad times can be and what we need to protect about ourselves.

The likes of Nandan Nilekani are now saying that is a security issue and then point fingers at Android, iOS or Facebook which too owns a lot of our data. It isn’t similar Sir. None of them have executive powers over me. I have some notional ability to delete them, sign off. They can’t Switch me Off. His argument is akin to saying – “look, we have built a grand, free house for you to live in. Yes, the columns of the house aren’t strong enough, but hey, there are other houses in towns that also have weak columns.” Sir, with all due respect, you should have built protection first before giving birth to a Frankenstein.

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