Friday, January 8, 2010

Security And Privacy Issues Of The Unique Identity Number Project Of India

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is not a legally constituted authority. In the absence of just and reasonable law(s) to support the same, it would violate the Human Rights and Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India, say techno-legal experts like Praveen Dalal. The interaction of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with Human Rights is no more a science fiction and India must keep in mind the mandates of Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace while implementing projects that have no legal sanction and backing. The below mentioned opinion has raised some pertinent security and privacy violation issues in this regard.

The air is thick with schemes that will enable the state, and its agencies, to identify every resident, and to track what they are doing. The UIDAI, in its working paper, says that enrolment will not be mandatory, but acknowledges that in practice it is expected not to be voluntary. The ‘Registrars’, who will enroll people on to the data base, will be both private operators and government agencies, and they will be encouraged to insist that they will entertain only those who are willing to enroll. Over a short time, only those with UID numbers may find themselves able to access services.

That is the effort. Just on its own, it could even seem benign. There are two phenomena that take the innocence out of the exercise.

The first is ‘convergence’. ‘Convergence’ is about combining information. There are presently various pieces of information available separately, and held in discrete ‘silos’. We give information to a range of agencies; as much as is necessary for them to do their job. The passport agencies do not need to know how many bank accounts you have, or whether you drive a car. The telephone company need not know how you have insured your house. The police do not need to know how often you travel, not unless you are a suspect anyway. It is this that makes some privacy possible in a world where there are so many reasons why, and locations where, we give information about ourselves. The ease with which technology has whittled down the notion of the private has to be contained, not expanded. The UID, in contrast, will act as a bridge between these silos of information, and it will take the control away from the individual about what information we want to share, and with whom.

This is poised to completely change norms of privacy, confidentiality and security of personal information. The terms ‘security’ and ‘privacy’ seem to be under threat, where technological possibility is dislocating many traditional concerns.

The second phenomenon is ‘tracking’. Once the UID is in place, and convergence becomes commonplace, the movement of people, their monies, their activities can be brought together, especially since transactions from buying rice in a PDS shop to receiving wages to bank withdrawals to travel could begin to require the number. There is a difference between people tracking a state, and the state, and the ‘market’ tracking people. The UID is clearly not what it is presented as being: it is not benign, nor a mere number which will give an identity to those who the state had missed so far.

Interestingly, the working paper of the UIDAI starts with a claim that the UID will bring down barriers that prevents the poor from accessing services and subsidies by providing an identity, but soon goes on to clarify that the “UID number will only guarantee identity, not rights, benefits or entitlements”. Given that it is the powerlessness of the poor, inefficiency, the perception of the poor as not deserving of support, sympathy or rights, and the status of illegality foisted on them that stops them from getting what is due to them, and given that corruption and leakages in the system mutate and persist, this quick stepping back is wise indeed.

In the excitement about technology being deployed to do something that has not been done anywhere in the world, the importance of privacy and protection from misuse of personal information is getting eclipsed.

It is significant that the UIDAI working paper makes no mention of national security concerns, and the surveillance, and profiling, possibilities it will create. Yet, the UID is not a project in isolation. The NATGRID, which the UID will facilitate, places the whole population under surveillance; and the home minister is talking about a DNA bank.

Fallibility, the difficulties inherent in reaching those in extreme poverty, the choiceless existence on a database and the possibility of undesirable others getting hold of information only add to the scariness of the scenario that we seem to have accepted without discussion, challenge or debate. And, once accomplished, we would have reached a point of no return.

The writer is an independent law researcher.


India Needs Techno-Legal Capacity Development Says Praveen Dalal

Technical issues pertaining to cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics have always haunted the law enforcement, lawyers and judges in India. As a result not much has been achieved either legally or judicially in this regard. Even the basic legal enablement of ICT systems in India is missing. Whether it is establishment of e-courts in India or cyber law and cyber forensics training of police officers, lawyers and judges in India, nothing is happening at the appropriate time and in the right direction. The results are very obvious. India is in emergent need of legal and judicial reform to sustain faith and trust in the law enforcement, legal and judicial system.

The problem gets further complicated when technical issues are merged with the complex legal problems. A “Techno-Legal Combination” of technical knowledge and legal acumen becomes an inevitable necessity in these circumstances. According to Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the leading Techno-Legal Expert of India, “The situation is really alarming as India is ignoring the seriousness of cyber crimes and technology related issues. There is almost no conviction of cyber criminals in India. To make the matter worst, the Information Technology Act 2008 made almost all the cyber crimes “bailable”. This means that the technically advanced cyber criminals have neither a technical nor a legal fear to prevent them from committing various cyber crimes. Even the law enforcement, lawyers and judges need techno-legal training so that the menace of cyber crimes can be tackled with an iron hand in India”.

Recently Director-General of Police (Criminal Investigation Department and Training) D.V. Guruprasad confessed that the police have no clue how to handle cyber crime. In a marketing fraud case, the police had dumped desktops and laptops of the accused in a storeroom without realising they did not have the hard disks in them. When the head constable was asked about the hard disks, he did not know what they were. If this is the situation, there can be no cyber crimes conviction in India, say experts. Cyber crime labs/cells/police stations are on no use when the cyber criminals cannot be convicted. In the absence of governmental efforts in this regard, world renowned techno-legal firms like Perry4Law can be really helpful in fighting cyber crimes in India.

Issues pertaining to hacking, data thefts, data security, cyber terrorism, financial frauds, privacy violations, etc must not be taken as lightly as has been done by India. There is an emergent need of making proper amendments in the Information Technology Act 2000 of India. Time has come to abdicate targets achieved on “papers only” and do some constructive and actual grounds work in the techno-legal field.


Methods To Stop Terrorism And Important Learned Lessons

In this wonderful piece of work, Muhammad Bilal Iftikhar Khan has analysed the common mistakes that are committed while dealing with terrorism. He has also mentioned some great lessons that have been learnt in the past by taking wrong policy decisions to tackle terrorism. This is a worth piece to consider by Indian government that is presently engaged in a fight against terrorism.

Observation I

You cannot destroy liquid. Stab a knife in glass of water and water will give way to knife. Then after some time the rusting process will start and ultimately solid knife will rust. But if you put fire under the glass, the water will start evaporating but will only change form. Soon glass will be empty but water will still remain same but in other form.


You cannot defeat a liquid force by just utilizing power of muscle. The strategy of use of force is counterproductive. If you want to defeat a liquid force you need to break it at atomic and molecular level.

Al Qaeda and Taliban cannot be defeated by sheer use of Force. Lessons of Operation Khanjer have clearly taught that troop surge will be waste of time. Use of force will only help extremists. With every innocent dead they will get more support.

They are liquid force, they will give way but this giving way is not victory because soon the rusting process will start on those who fight them. It’s exactly what happened to Soviet forces

To break this extremist force you need to break it on atomic and molecular level. This means stop use of force which cause collateral damage. It also means eliminate the conditions which help extremist forces. It also means to reckon demographic and ground realities and correct the mistakes committed. It also means winning hearts and minds of Muslims by adopting just policies in Palestine and Kashmir and Muslim Ummah in which they don’t feel losers. It also means to respect Muslims and their choices. Don’t force dictators on masses by supporting them.

And most importantly don’t fight extremism with extremism. When a civilized person becomes extremist, he become idiot and commits stupid mistakes. When US president has announced troops surge in Afghanistan, reports are coming that al Qaeda is shifting to Yemen and Somalia.

Al Qaeda is showing better strategic thinking. They are widening the battle field and exploiting the effects of American policies. More battle fields means US and NATO to stretch more. This means dispersion of force and resources. Extremists have advantage of flexibility, where as this advantage is not enjoyed by other side. Fights against these extremists according to their own wishes have already brought global economic recession. People of our world are crushing between civilized extremists and religious extremists.

To defeat religious extremists first of all stop fighting war according to their wishes. Please throw pre conceive ideas about each other. The amount of Islam phobic people in west and Europhobic/ west phobic people in Islamic world are the reason rationality is getting defeated and extremism weather Islamic or Western is winning. West should forget its colonial thinking pattern. They must see non western people as equivalent. Their thinking pattern is causing their double standards which are adding fire to already tense situation.

Leaders of west have greater responsibility because they owe their wealth and advancement to East which they exploited fully when they were colonial masters. They should give a small amount of riches back by investing in their old colonies for development. Remember empty stomach and poverty forces people to crime and incubate the extremist ideologies.

Observation Number II

Water always flows from high ground towards low Ground. According to Law of Nature water will not flow back to mountains. From seas and rivers will get evaporated, form clouds and winds will push it towards mountains.


Extremism starts from the advance nations. Palestine issue is one big example. Colonial era and treatment of people of colonies is also another example. Then western support of dictators and those disliked by their people is another example.

Recent example of Prophet’s cartoons on which Majority of west exhibited more extremism the third world extremists is another big example. In west denying Holocaust is crime but to degrade a person who have billions followers is freedom of speech. Like Bulleh Shah, the Famous Sufi Poet said

میری بکل دے وچ چور “Thief is in my clock”

West should understand that a real extremist lies in their ranks. Its only third law of motion which becomes a reality in many cases.

Observation Number III

A capitalist do everything for the love of capital. Money is cold and non living that’s why those who love money become cold.


I agree that Human are selfish by nature. In East and West ideologies are sold not for betterment of people but to achieve interests. Here Mullah sells religion. They have big Madrassas big cars etc etc.

In west those who advocate war and advocate extremism versus extremism, have big commercial interests. Some want to sell their arms and ammunition, other have their eyes on resources.

In east we have religious extremists and in west we have economic extremists. Both exploit common man. These vulture control media and information outlets. They motivate common man to become fodder of their selfish interests. A common man in East, like his human brother in west wants an honest life with food and security and a good life. He doesn’t want war or insecurity. His leaders on other hand, weather economic, political/ religious or military, know if conflict ends how will he earn?

It’s surprising to see how thinking pattern of OBL, Ayman Al Zawahiri, Billy Graham, and Garry Fall well, GW Bush, Tony Blair, and BAL Thackeray etc is the same and on other side thinking pattern of a common man living in East or in West matches.

It’s really tough to create but very easy to destroy. Our leaders both in East and in West like to destroy not to build

Observation Number IV

If you have to walk a thousand mile or just 10 steps, 1st step counts the most.


I am not socialist, but I agree with socialists on couple of Points. We, the citizens of World should understand how we all are being exploited by our religious, economic and political elite.

We must understand, Our God, call him Allah, God, El, Baghwan … honored us by making us humans. If we cannot become humans we can never become Muslims, Hindus or Christians. Becoming a human is best way to thank creator.

Secondly if my neighbor is not happy, I cannot become happy. We live in globalize world where world has become a global village. If there is suffering in Palestine, I cannot run away from its effects. I know my leaders will never like conflicts and real politics to end because that’s how they earn and become rich but as human it’s my duty to elect humans not cold capitalist, and force them to formulate policies which will bring peace and prosperity not only for me but my other brethren with whom I share common ancestry and world.

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