Friday, September 18, 2009

Is The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Legally Constituted?

India seems to be following the hit and trial method for some of the most crucial projects in India. The end result is obvious, i.e. wastage of crores of public money and violation of civil liberties of the Indian citizens. In this “guest column”, Mr. Praveen Dalal , Managing Partner of Perry4Law has shared his valuable insights in this regard.

India is notoriously infamous for creating authorities and agencies without any legal sanction and framework. Surprisingly, a majority of them pertains to law enforcement and intelligence agencies like CBI, IB, RAW, etc. What India is actually doing is using administrative circulars and executive orders to give legitimacy to these institutions. Why these circulars and orders have still not been declared “unconstitutional” by Indian judiciary is still a bigger mystery?

The latest in the league is the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI) managing the proposed Unique Identification Cards for Indian citizens. Where is that authority, what are its rules and regulations, what legal framework is supporting it, what are the legal and technical safeguards available for the possible misuse of the same, etc are some of the questions that would always vex the Indians.

It seems India has developed a habit of constituting “multiple agencies” without and legal framework and sanctions. This would result in more troubles than solutions. None can dispute that the unique identification number's database is too precious to be handled so casually.

On the front of security and safety of unique identification number's database, even Nandan Nilekani has accepted these concerns to be “legitimate one”. For instance, it would be a big task to secure such database from possible hacking and free from any misuse.

Invasion of Privacy of Indian citizens by Indian Government and its Agencies is certainly going to be there in future. This is more so when the Indian Government has openly declared its Policy to adopt endemic surveillance and e-surveillance over Indian citizens. The Indian Government would spend 800 Crores hard earned public money for tapping all phones in real time. Ironically, Indian citizens’ money would be used against Indian only and that also in an illegal and unconstitutional manner.

With the “Judicial Silence Strategy” adopted by the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court of India, the fate of the already scarce Privacy and Data Protection Rights in India is going to face extermination. It would be a good idea to call for explanation form Indian Government and stressing upon establishment of proper safeguards before departing with any sensitive information to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI).

Mr. Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law, is the Leading Techno-Legal Specialist of India and is an Internationally renowned Expert in the fields of Cyber Forensics, Cyber Security, Cyber Law, etc. These are his personal views and opinion.