Kushal Das

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Aadhaar, the mass surveillance system

If you are following me on Twitter, you have already seen a lot of (re)tweets related to Aadhaar. For the people first time hearing this term, it is a 12 digit unique identification number provided by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It is also the world’s largest bio-metric ID system. It is supposed to be a voluntary service.

From the very beginning, this project tried to hide the details from the Indian citizens. Let it be privacy advocates or security researchers or human rights activists, everyone predicted that this will become a monster, a mass surveillance system, a tool of choice of the power hungry dictators.

Like any other complex system, the majority of the people only see the advertisements from the government and completely miss all the problems and horror stories this project is creating. Here are a few links below for the interested people to read.

Neither my wife, nor our daughter has an Aadhaar (I also don’t have one), that means Py (our daughter) did not get admission to any school last year.

Whenever security researchers or journalists tried to report on the project, the UIDAI tried to hide behind denials and police complaints against the journalists or researchers. There are various reports on how one can get access (both read/write) to the actual production database with as little as $10-30. We now have examples of terrorist organizations having access to the same database. The UIDAI kept telling how this is an unhackable technology and for security they have a 13 feet wall outside of the data center which in turn will keep all hackers away.

They have already build 360 degree databases on top of Aadhaar, and now they are trying to link DNA to the same system.

The current government of India tried their level best to argue in the Supreme Court of India to tell that Indians don’t have any rights to privacy. But, thankfully they failed in this effort, and the Supreme Court ruled privacy as a fundamental right. We are now waiting for the judgment on the Aadhaar (which will hopefully come out in the next few weeks).

Meanwhile, the evil nexus is pushing down Aadhaar to the throats of the Indian citizens and Pakistani spies and gods.

A few days ago, in an event in Jaipur, they asked Edward Snowden the following question.

How big of an issue is privacy?

The answer started with from where that argument comes from.

The answer is that Nazi Germany. The nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels did this. Because he was trying to change the conversation away from “What are your rights?” and “What evidences must the government show?” to violet them, to intrude into your private life and instead said “Why do you need your rights?”, “How can you justify your rights?”, “Isn’t strange that you are invoking your rights? Isn’t that unusual?”. But, in a free society this is the opposite of the way it is supposed to work. We don’t need to explain why you have a right. You don’t need to explain why it is valuable, why you need it. It is for the government to explain why you don’t deserve it. They go to a court, they show that you are a criminal. This is increasingly falling out of favor, because the governments and companies think that it is inefficient. It is too much work. Life would be easier, life would be more convenient for them, life would be more profitable for them if we didn’t have any rights at all.

But, privacy isn’t about something to hide, privacy is about something to protect. And that is the very concept of liberty. It is the idea that there can be some part of you, of your life, of your ideas that belong to you, not to society. And you get to make the decision about who you share that with. -- Edward Snowden

Why are we reading this in your blog?

This might a question for many of you. Why are reading this in a blog post or in a planet? Because we, the people with the knowledge of technology are also part of these evil plans. We now know about many private companies taking part with their local government to build 360 degree profiles, to track the citizens and to run the mass surveillance systems. For example, related to Aadhaar, for the last 4 years, Google silently pushed the Aadhaar support phone number (which now UIDAI is trying to stay away from) to every Google Android phone in India. When they got caught red handed, they claimed that they did it inadvertently. Finacle software by Infosys denies creation of bank accounts without Aadhaar. Microsoft is working to link Skype with Aadhaar. Bill Gates is trying to push the idea that Aadhaar is all good, and does not have any issues.

What can you do?

You can start by educating yourself first. Read more about the technologies which controls our lives. Have doubt about the things and try to understand how they actually work. Write about them, ask questions to the people in power. Talk about the issues to your friends and family.

This is not gong to be an easy task, but, we all should keep fighting back to make sure of a better future for our next generation.

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