Aadhaar verdict: Why Usha Ramanathan & Co rallied against the biometric id program 

In light of the Supreme Court’s verdict on Aadhaar, SouthWord brings a 5-part audio series by CLPR and Usha Ramanathan on Aadhaar’s impact on the lives and identity of the citizens of India

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the constitutional validity of the biometric-based Aadhaar identity project. A five-member constitutional bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices DY Chandrachud, AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar and Ashok Bhushan pronounced the judgement three months after arguements concluded in May. Justice Chandrachud was the sole dissenting voice in the 4-1 judgement.

Lawyer Usha Ramanathan has been one of the most vociferous voices against the Unique Identification Authority of India's Aadhaar project. At a public talk, hosted by the Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) in Bangalore, Ramanathan spoke about the numerous problematic facets of the Aadhaar program. This 5-part series highlights some of those arguments.

Jayna Kothari is a co-founder of CLPR and practices as a counsel in the Karnataka High Court and in the Supreme Court of India. Kothari explains the impact of Aadhaar's mandatory gender disclosure clause on the rights of the sexual minorities of the country.

The U in UIDAI

The stated goal of UIDAI/Aadhaar is to eliminate ghosts and fakes and de-duplicate people. This, it first said, would be done on the basis of biometrics that are unique. But then the UIDAI's internal reports claim that demographic and environmental factors decide whether biometrics work or not. The Authority then changed the narrative.

The trickle-up theory

Data is the new oil. And with Aadhaar, it will be possible for the 1% of the rich to use the personally identifiable information of Aadhaar holders to create more wealth for themselves. This is the trickle-up theory.

Death by Aadhaar

Failure of biometric authentication is one of Aadhaar's biggest drawbacks, which has led to denial of benefits and services and even deaths. This failure is something that then UIDAI director general RS Sharma had conceded to in an interview to Frontline magazine in 2011.

Aadhaar, a noose for transgender community

Have you ever wondered if declaring your gender is a violation of privacy? Transgender and intersex individuals go through multiple gender markers throughout their lives. Their identity documents may therefore have different gender markers. Declaring gender for Aadhaar is problematic not only from a privacy perspective for the transgender community, but makes them vulnerable to threats, violence and even forced outing.

Sentiment analysis for seamless governance

Aadhaar will take India to an Orwellian reality. This is evidenced in a tender floated by the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited - or BECIL. Under the Information & Broadcasting ministry, BECIL wants to establish a system that will plug into 'mobile insights platforms', including, but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Flickr, Playstore, email, news, blogs and more.

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