India

People in Meghalaya want to "opt out" of Aadhaar system

02 Nov 2017 | By Ramya Patelkhana
Meghalaya: Campaign to give up Aadhaar launched

Over 100 people have joined a campaign to opt-out of Aadhaar system in Meghalaya, claiming they were "coerced" into getting their 12-digit unique identification number.

They signed a letter addressed to UIDAI regarding the same, under an initiative launched by Meghalaya People's Committee on Aadhaar.

The organization said their initiative was in response to the Centre's expansion of Aadhaar's ambit, violating Supreme Court's orders.

In context: Meghalaya: Campaign to give up Aadhaar launched

02 Nov 2017People in Meghalaya want to "opt out" of Aadhaar system

Letter addressed to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)

The letter signed by the residents reads: "I ask that my demographic, biometric, authentication records and any other information about me which is with the UIDAI be deleted from the UIDAI database. Kindly delete all the information...and communicate to me when this exercise is complete."
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Questions raised about security of Aadhaar data

DetailsQuestions raised about security of Aadhaar data

Meghalaya People's Committee on Aadhaar said the government made Aadhaar mandatory for several essential services like school mid-day meals, procuring foodgrains under Public Distribution System, income-tax returns filing, etc.

It added even the SC, in many orders since 2013, emphasized Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for government welfare schemes.

Since 2014, the Committee has been working to create awareness on Aadhaar's alleged privacy concerns.

Committee drafted the letter

The letter says: "I did not enroll on the UIDAI database voluntarily; I was coerced/misled into enrolling because I was warned that I would lose my rights as a citizen and that I would be excluded from my rights and entitlements and from various services."

Withdrawal of ConsentPeople don't want UIDAI to possess their data

The letter reads that the "coercion has been in deliberate contempt" of the SC orders.

It also says people didn't consent to have their Aadhaar data shared with third-parties/service providers.

They want to withdraw any consent earlier recorded by UIDAI.

People want UIDAI to reverse any transactions carried out on the basis of such consent and inform third-parties/service providers of the consent withdrawal.

Public MeetingLetter distributed to over 1,000 people

Reverend Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh of the Committee said they drafted a letter in English as well as Khasi so that people could read and understand the issue before opting to give up Aadhaar.

The pastor and Presbyterian Church member said the opt-out campaign was conceived at a 24 October meeting attended by over 1,000 people.

The letter was distributed to the attendees that day.

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Religious angleReligious angle to opposing Aadhaar in Christian-majority Meghalaya

Reverend Pyrtuh said "misgivings about Aadhaar" in Meghalaya include privacy concerns and a religious angle as well.

Pyrtuh said, "There is a belief in the prophecy in the Bible that there will come a time where people will be marked with a number on their forehead, and without that, your existence would be invalid."

He added that privacy "also encompassed belief after all."

Students' Union"Anyone can get Aadhaar, even illegal migrants"

Khasi Students' Union, a part of the Committee, protested against Aadhaar for another reason.

It claims "anyone can get an Aadhaar, whether or not they are citizens of India."

The Union's General Secretary, Donald V Thabah, said Meghalaya has many illegal migrants from Nepal and Bangladesh, entering through Assam.

He added Aadhaar helped illegal migrants to enjoy all government facilities and schemes.

Migrants get all facilities: Thabah

Donald V Thabah said, "Even if they (illegal migrants) do not have election ID cards, they can open (bank) accounts, get subsidies, and live comfortably." The Khasi Students' Union was the first organization to oppose Aadhaar in Meghalaya.