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The ongoing denial of UIDAI and the government of Aadhaar vulnerabilities remains a concern. Many people don't understand how Aadhaar could be a problem. There are many and documented ways where the integrity of Aadhaar data is already rendered questionable, but here are some ways that anyone could pull off with some effort.

For the purposes of this post - you are a scammer. A criminal.

Step 0: Acquire a few photocopies of Aadhaar

This is the starting point. Your Aadhaar number is supposed to be known only to yourself, but the reckless linking of Aadhaar with everything has ensured that photocopies of Aadhaar are, in reality, being handed out to anyone from international couriers to schools. If you're inclined to be a criminal, there is probably no shortage of sources of Aadhaar numbers. No, it doesn't matter even if people have written the purpose and signed on them. You could probably randomly collect a few photocopies of Aadhaar from people by making it "mandatory" - like your driver or maid must give you a copy of their Aadhaar to get their salary, or for police verification, etc. Help old people in the neighbourhood to book railway tickets and ask for Aadhaar number - you don't need it, but gullible people don't question. Just invent an excuse - it doesn't have to be true - you are a scammer, after all. If one person refuses, ask another. Not many refuse. You'll soon hit pay dirt. Govt has taught people to hand around their Aadhaar for anything and everything. And just like that, the allegedly secret number is yours.

Now, depending on what kind of a criminal you wish to be....

You're a terrorist, or stalker or need to share fake news on WhatsApp.... you need a phone number.

Give that photocopy to any telecom operator and get a SIM card - this one is easy. Frankly, it will work with any ID. Not just Aadhaar. But Aadhaar is better, because then you attach it to the new phone number and sort of build that identity proper to be the foundation of other scam documents to be a full and proper ghost.

Say you have black money you need to park, etc. Things that need you to actually be a person.

Go to the UIDAI website. Download the form for updating Aadhaar details by post. Photocopy some ID, change the name and address to match that of your target Aadhaar you want to take over and attach to form. Fill the form, but in the place of the phone number, put the new number you got in the previous scam. Just in case someone is alert at UIDAI, save it on a couple of phones with that name and install true caller. Feel free to add a fake email also. So someone checking the number sees right name in true caller as well as telecom operator's records. Post the form. That Aadhaar card will now be updated to work with your OTP. Enjoy. You can get an Udyog Aadhaar and qualify for a business loan, you can validate it for passport, etc. There is no way for the person to easily realize that the phone number was switched, so it will be a while before they realize what has happened. Even if a duplicate Aadhaar card gets posted to them, it will have no changed information (phone isn't on the card - or even biometrics - they could have an empty document and not know it). By then, unless they do biometric PDS, you could use an OTP to switch the biometrics for you too and properly make it yours.

Rent a flat using that Aadhaar, register the lease, open bank account. Put some money there to evade taxes. Whatever. Oh, get another PAN if it is a lot of money. No one would believe Aadhaar can create a ghost. After all, govt has guaranteed it removes ghosts.

You are an illegal immigrant living in some slum. You'd like PDS, but you don't qualify.

Fikar not. Aadhaar makes it easy. Keep an eye out for someone who dies in your area. Say you know people in the rationing office and can get the name of the dead person removed from their card for them. Take the card, update the dead person's name with your Aadhaar. Aadhaar overwrites the person's data on the ration card - name, age, sex, everything. Voila. You are now on their card. I suppose you should now remove your name from it and apply for a separate card, "because you've moved out to your own place". Oh, don't forget to return the ration card of those nice people, with the dead person's name nicely removed and all. Oh, congratulations! You are also a citizen, if you weren't, before.

*****

There are endless ways, really, because the reckless imposition of Aadhaar has resulted in it being accepted for far more than what Aadhaar data is capable of actually verifying. Money transfers via Aadhaar? No problem. The government has gone to great lengths to enable it during demonetisation. Need more gas cylinders than your subsidy gives you to use in your restaurant? Sure, just scramble the address a bit, so computer doesn't recognize as identical.

This is a threat to individual safety as well as national safety. Both physical and financial.

And I haven't even mentioned leaked databases (there you go - thousands of aadhaar numbers and addresses) or privacy issues (govt says we don't have a right to privacy, apparently) or denial of basic necessities to poor and desperate people (we don't care about them anyway). I haven't even talked of countless mobile SIM service people who could simply duplicate your SIM - and the Aadhaar number to verify is attached to the phone number! I suppose soon scammers will be paying bribes to get jobs in mobile operator service centers.

Are you still a fan of Aadhaar?

 

Disclaimer: This post is for educational purposes and does not endorse anyone actually indulging in criminal activities. I have not done any of the above. I would like those still insisting that Aadhaar is safe to explain how they would prevent any of this.

 

1

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely.

George Orwell, 1984, p. 127

Newspeak, for those unfamiliar with Orwell, is the name of an artificial official language in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Much of the vocabulary of Newspeak is based on Doublethink. Doublethink is the art of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them. The language in Orwell’s 1984 transforms societal values and the lives of the people completely.

From 2009, when Aadhaar was officially born, the governments in India too have invented an artificial official language. Let’s call it Aadhaarspeak for want of an official name. Although Newspeak is much more than WYSIWYDG, my tech friends call it WYSIWYDG. That’s the opposite of WYSIWYG.

Aadhaarspeak is considered the language of progress. The language of a youthful India. A language of technology and the future. A language that will transform India into a super power, whatever that is. It’s the language where the government is paperless, cashless, and presence-less.

As even existence in India becomes impossible without Aadhaar, many say that the purpose of Aadhaarspeak is to digitally colonise IndiaSome deny that Aadhaarspeak will cause the country to rid its people of their sovereignty, to become democracy-less, bank-less and defence-less.

dictionary meaning of colonization
Are we the new Aadhaar colony?

There is no official dictionary of Aadhaarspeak. That’s why very few know of its existence. That’s also one of the reasons why very few understand what it means. I mean what it really translates to. If you don’t know a whole vocabulary, you don’t understand its world. You can’t make sense of the debate. You miss the point. Before you know it the language changes yourworld, your life with it. It alters your ability to survive or even exist.

So I decided to attempt a glossary for the benefit of those who like to know about it, understand their world and describe it accurately. Its purpose is simply to provide the beginner a first introduction to Aadhaarspeak. It can also be considered as merely a documentation of the voluntary words of 2017.

This modest effort is work-in-progress. Slow, with no sponsorship or even official recognition. This compilation is the result of contributions from hundreds of officials from various governments, thousands of people from all walks of life and over seven years of research. Hundreds of public documents, news reports contributed to this compilation. Painful, as the official references keep playing hide and seek. And sometimes even disappearing altogether. It is, therefore, neither complete nor the official version. Any official denials are, therefore most welcome, especially to set the record absolutely straight for posterity.

If it sounds like technology jargon, some of it is just that. In its fullness Aadhaarspeak is the work of genius. I leave it for you to attribute the quality of goodness or evil to the genius. For that is your right to choice, I would not rob from you. Especially as it will tell me more about you, than of the genius designing Aadhaarspeak.

I recognise that many users of Aadhaarspeak face many limitations in using it to communicate the past with those in the future. That, in the spirit of Newspeak, must be merely accepted as the shortcoming of those who cannot accept the universality of Aadhaarspeak.

Like any glossary is not meant to be read from A to Z, this too should not be read from A to Z. It is meant as a reference, not as a novel. Some early readers have commented that each word could become a Kafka plot, a Galsworthy tragedy or a Solzhenitsyn description of life in the now extinct USSR. That, is merely their imagination running wild.

Those seeking to end Aadhaarspeak seek right to choice, right to self-rule, freedom from coercion, and call an end to digital colonisation by Aadhaar

Just so you know, any resemblance to doublethink is, then, purely your imagination. As many geniuses have highlighted, after all, how can doublethink, the art of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them, be progress?

The intense debate in the highest courts of the land on just one word from Aadhaarspeak, privacy, after almost 5 years of whispered conversations in corridors on some of Aadhaarspeak, speaks volumes for the power of each word. It may take a lifetime to settle them all. Unless of course they start with the one word they started with in 2013 that is not in Aadhaarspeak.

The word that may not be spoken formed the directions of the highest court of the land in its orders of September 23, 2013. It’s a word we dare not utter anymore as no one, say the official statistics, suffers anymore as we are now voluntarily in Aadhaar land.

Supreme Court Order of September 23, 2013 in WP 494 of 2012
Supreme Court Order of September 23, 2013 in WP 494 of 2012

They say we-the-people have not spoken. We uttered no words when we spent long hours in queues to deposit our hard earned money back in the bank. So the official version must be true.

But then, I am told there are still overwhelmingly large number of individuals who are resisting and even rewriting the Aadhaarspeak. They hope this edition of Aadhaarspeak will be discarded. They look with hope to the Supreme Court to declare this list as corrupt and illegal. They pray that the Supreme Court will restore our right to choiceright to self-rulefreedom from coercion, and a call an end to digital colonisation by Aadhaar. They will ensure that these will not become thought-crimes.

Many would want the world to believe we are not the Mahatma’s India anymore. There is little meditation, satyagraha or civil disobedience left in us anymore. That, said the likes of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, is what character is all about. It is what shapes us and makes a nation great.

Can I offer you my own identification instead of the one you issue to me?

Perhaps those amongst you who are wiser and more equipped to create liberationspeak, for those of us who cannot understand or have little use of Aadhaarspeak, I wish you success. I wish you well. Godspeed.

In Part II, till then, is a first, still work-in-progress, attempt to compile a glossary of Aadhaarspeak.

 

Originally published here.

1

I received the following message from activist Shabnam Hashmi along with a phone call recording:

‘जिसका आधार नंबर और एड्रेस नहीं है हम उसे कहीं भी ख़तम कर सकते हैं’

‘एक अभियान चल रहा है घेरो और मारो’

Sub Inspector threatens to kill

Pehchan (I am one of the founding trustees) runs a small centre in Jaitpur extension and teaches school drop outs every year, coaches them to appear for 10th and 12th from Jamia. It also runs sewing classes for women.

I received a call from Director of Pehchan coaching centre at 8.59pm. She told me that Haseen husband of one of the women (Mubina) , who had learnt stitching at our centre, got a call from a man who said that he was calling from the Lajpat Nagar police station and was a sub inspector. He threatened Haseen and called him to the police station regarding some complaint. She gave me SI’s name and number.

Usually when someone is called at night we do try and call up the police officer concerned, try and arrange a lawyer to go with whoever has been called to the police station.

I did the same. Unfortunately my telephone did not have a call recorder downloaded. The conversation which was full of abuses, using highly derogatory and uncivilized language could not be recorded. I cut the phone after 15 minutes or so and downloaded a call recorder quickly. In between the person who claimed to be the Sub Inspector Sandip Malik from Lajpat Nagar Police Station called 4 times but I didn’t pick up the phone till the recorder was downloaded.

I am attaching the recording which is self explanatory. The earlier conversation was a lot more threatening and abusive as compared to what has been recorded.  I was directly threatened that I will be killed in an encounter and that there is the new law according to which whoever doesn’t have an aadhaar and address proof should be surrounded and killed (‘एक अभियान चल रहा है घेरो और मारो’ ).

The man who claimed to be the sub inspector called from mobile no 7065824289.

The conversation and the Sub Inspectors’ threat raise serious questions which the Government of the day and the Police Commissioner must answer.

According to truecaller, the number belongs to one Ashish Kumar and has also been indicated as a police number.

The person speaking is clearly drunk. He is expressing homicidal intent toward those who don't have an Aadhaar. He is clearly speaking using the phone of another police officer - drinking buddy? Where is this impunity coming from? Why would police think it is ok to kill people for lack of identification?

This indicates a serious and urgent security issue for the country. Are the police being encouraged to do physical harm to those who do not have Aadhaar? What is the basis of calling people randomly to the police station or threatening to kill someone for not having an Aadhaar?

Why is the "voluntary" adoption of Aadhaar accompanied with increasing coersion, deprivation of rights and now outright threats of murder? Is this a country or a concentration camp?

Since the last few weeks, there has been a sudden uptick of anonymous accounts supporting Aadhaar and dismissing concerns and news of information leaks, security and privacy issues. These accounts were all either created in may or scrubbed of all content and began tweeting afresh in May. Some of them are propaganda accounts that tweet only positives about Aadhaar and/or gloss over issues raised on grounds of law, constitutionality, fundamental rights, privacy, ethics, security, national security and so on.

Here are some of the accounts.

Out of these the @supportaadhaar has been separately claimed by Rashmi Ranjan so far

But there were more serious handles that were created in May, anonymous and interacted specifically with critics of Aadhaar in various ways that ranged from defamation to threats of legal action. For example, these handles.

It did not take us long to figure out what was going on. Prominent handles that had criticized Aadhaar on technical grounds (not lawyers, or political or ethical grounds) were the main targets. It was rapidly obvious that these were fronts for people from the tech community. Likely people profiting from Aadhaar, because it is really not plausible that the abundantly detailed flaws revealed in Aadhaar could not be understood by them.

When one of these handles, @confident_india tangled with Kiran Jonnalgadda, he was able to make an educated guess at its identity and proved it by verifying the troll account against a real phone number. That phone number belonged to the co-founder, governing body member and director of iSPIRIT - Sharad Sharma. The director of iSPIRIT was going around using a fake handle and planting allegations of profiting from criticism of Aadhaar against critics. Planting allegations about them working for foreign intelligence agencies (ironically, MongoDB that Aadhaar uses is funded by the CIA).

Allegations of foreign intelligence affiliations
Who is funded by the CIA Allegations of foreign intelligence affiliations

On a stray note, after these allegations started happening, Nandan Nilekani ("mentor" to this circus) too referred to critics of Aadhaar with vested interests from his real account while promoting that childish data free article asking personal questions related to motivations of aadhaar critics that is replied to here.

Kiran informed several of us about his investigation into this troll (aka director of iSPIRIT, Sharad Sharma) and we independently verified that his number was indeed attached to the fake account, because he knew that once he exposed Sharad Sharma in public, the phone number would immediately be removed and perhaps the anonymous account as well.

He made this video public in a tweet and later blogged about it. Thiyagarajan M, a fellow at iSPIRIT blogged a reply on medium.com as well stating that Sharad had denied the allegations and they would be investigated, while he admits that the presentation Kiran mentions exists and is just a strategy document that does not recommend anonymous trolling. He states that they were aware that some of them had created an anonymous campaign and claims it is not an official campaign by iSPIRIT. As though an official campaign would be put in writing formally.

We are aware that some volunteers and their friends have created an anonymous campaign to Support Aadhaar. This is not a troll campaign, but an informational one. It is also not an iSPIRT campaign.

I am not sure what remains to investigate. If it is about investigating how Sharad can possibly be taken off the hook, it shouldn't need an organization existing because of an authentication based product too long to realize that there really is no sane way.

No official handle related with iSPIRIT has so far published any statement to the best of my knowledge. Sharad Sharma and the troll have both promptly denied to it, of course. Except, in the process of denying that he was @confident_india, Sharad seems to have proved himself to be @indiaforward2 as well! He accidentally tweeted his denial of being @confident_india from the @indiaforward2 handle as well as his real handle, before tweeting the new tweets with his real handle. He deleted the tweets that went from both handles of course, but not before someone quick made a timely screenshot. So here we are.

 

Sharad tweeting as @indiaforward2

The denial from his main handle was read by many, but I don't have a screenshot of it... yet. However, he didn't delete it fast enough. Factordaily updated their reporting of the Sharad Sharma controversy with his denial

Sharad Sharma woke to tweetstorm in Atlanta
Sharad Sharma woke to tweetstorm in Atlanta just like @indiaforward2
Sharad tweeting as himself.
Sharad's denial of trolling from his real account
Sharad's denial of trolling from his real account

My immediate thought about it wasn't even so much that people in power use sneaky, unethical methods to get their way and undermine obstacles, but that the director of a company that is a collective of software developers and who were all defending Aadhaar on grounds of security and privacy were so ignorant about securing something as elementary as an anonymous account!

Once this expose was public, several people independently verified that they too had been able to authenticate access to the troll account with Sharad Sharma's personal number. For example:

 

Rohin Dharmakumar went a step ahead and showed how a mobile phone can't simply be attached to a Twitter account without actually verifying the number.

 

There are also a lot of people unaware of the developments in that country called Digital India who are aghast at what they are discovering. This is what you get for being gullible. Here. Educational. Video published from official iSPIRIT handle. Watch Pramod Varma, Sanjay Jain ex-UIDAI now "volunteer" at the ISpirt that "donates" to Govt and how this serves to avoid oversight by CAG, RTI.

In other words, what you have here is a bunch of private people who are creating products off big data collected from all citizens in a manner that allows them to evade accountability to the citizens for it. They also fund the government, push the expansion of Aadhaar in spite of extensive risks and violations of citizens rights being documented. In spite of the fact that Aadhaar effectively allows any infiltrator to become a "citizen" of the country by facilitating the creation of all documents that a citizen would have. And when the concerns raised get too alarming and there is no coherent defense of them possible, they make fake accounts to go around undermining dissenters so that the imposition of Aadhaar that puts citizens and country at risk may not be challenged.

If you do not speak up for your rights, they will be trampled on by profiteers out to exploit them at any cost.

3

While people question govts in a democracy, in India the govt questions anyone questioning unaccountable govt actions. And supporters think that while India was a democracy under UPA, under Modi it has become some kind of Hindu Empire and questioning the king means "off with their heads" sort of thing. For some reason, Ritesh Dwivedy confused private individuals, not elected to public positions nor employed by public funds, as those accountable to him for their personal views and actions. And then sulked and asked again when no one thought him important enough to consider seriously. Entertaining as it is, he clearly seems to be disoriented as to who his rights as a citizen entitle him to answers from, so trying to help him find his way in the muddle this alleged democracy is becoming.

Clarifying some problems he appears to be facing. All quotes from one or the other article linked above unless explicitly mentioned.

Aadhaar is a unique indigenous innovation that empowers every Indian by providing them with a secure and verifiable identity.

This statement is completely unsubstantiated and likely at the root of all the confusion. He has been informed a lot of glorious things about Aadhaar. They are not necessarily true. Verification is an important skill in today's times when the government routinely lies to people in order to get them to believe, like Ritesh Dwivedy, whatever they wish people to believe.

Aadhaar is going to be the backbone of India becoming a developed country, and is receiving global acclaim from entities like Bill Gates, The Economist, the World Bank, Raoul Pal, and others.

These guys? Why wouldn't foreign power cartels appreciate the tool that hands them power over India on a platter? Big data is big power and leaky big data is big control without accountability for opportunists. Who needs terrorists when you have hackers and crucial data of the entire country is in a form the government has little ability to secure? Is this government supposed to serve their interests or those of citizens? Of course the other two pillars of this servitude by this government are demonetisation and promotion of cashless transactions in a country they forgot to get fully on the internet first. That is how dumb this government is. If such a database were empowerment, why is it being forced on third world countries?

One whiff of WannaCry and RBI has all ATMs shut down. On the other hand, it is the country with all these people praising us (without US doing it themselves) created the ransomware originally. To get a better perspective, they have actually done an attack on a nuclear facility in Iran with Stuxnet. Our idea of security is "don't enter random numbers for Aadhaar or we will consider it hacking" - a freaking bank did a replay attack on the Aadhaar database while "testing" their setup and neither are replay attacks prevented after that, nor the known "violators" refused access to Aadhaar - we are fucking out of our league on competence. It is like praising a 5 year old for writing all his secrets in his "private" diary in its hiding place behind the park bench. Except the 5 year old is writing down the security codes for getting into their home. Oh wait Indian homes don't have security alarms and such. Oops sorry.

Think of it like this. If Aadhaar is this easy to misuse, it will be misused and it is being misused and so far people have just got away with it while those who exposed flaws got arrested.

How many more years do you want India to remain a ‘developing’ nation?

Forever. I hope India never stops developing. How many years do you want India to be a banana republic wannabe pleasing foreign powers at the cost of citizens?

Why are you silent on all the benefits we are seeing as a result of Aadhaar?

For the same reason I'd be silent if my 5 year old came home happily telling me about her new best friend. A grown man acting in a shady manner, whom she thinks is absolutely fantastic. There are problems that are visible to one with experience on the subject. Just because all my daughter knows about the nice man in the park is that he gives candy doesn't mean it is a good thing.

Waise, why are you silent on the countless problemswe are seeing as a result of Aadhaar?

Why are you misleading the Indian public about Aadhaar through fear-mongering and sensationalism?

Why are you misleading the Indian public about Aadhaar through false assurances and "bagon mein bahar hai"?

Why are you willing to give biometrics to foreign govts and corporations, but not to your own govt?

Because our government is proved to be incompetent with data security. There isn't a single other biometric database that can be queried for identity by any Tom, Dick and Harry - because it is an idiot idea to begin with, with too high error rates to be efficient at what it claims to do and too poor security to protect citizens from the risks such a database presents. Nor is anyone in this circus apparently interested or aware that citizens have rights in a democracy and you can't just say "Idea, let me make the whole country do whatever I wish AND foot the economic and security costs of my whims without question". BJP was right on Aadhaar when UPA was in power. Today BJP has sold the country out a hundred times more than UPA even planned (though no guarantees, it is the same creeps even now. Only the sarkari gullibles have changed) Incidentally, I haven't given my biometrics to foreign governments and corporations, and most Indians have not.  Also foreign governments and companies have limited use of my biometrics, unlike the Aadhaar, which is being forcibly attached to absolutely every important transaction a person can do from hospitalizations to bank accounts, property to crop insurance. Misuse or denial has the power to literally finish the ability of a person to access own funds, communicate, live in own home or even survive if medical needs. No foreign government has been stupid enough to enslave own or other citizens this badly. Yet.

Tell you what, you do some homework and hardwork and expose some of that data you are comparing Aadhaar to, then we will have some grounds for an actual comparison, yes? Good part is, those guys won't even arrest you, you'll actually earn bug bounties. So not even risky like fighting Aadhaar under a totalitarian state.

Why are you opposed to using technology to benefit the nation?

Next you will say any and all technology is benefit only. Like the govt spamming me daily is benefit to the country, etc. Technology isn't inherently good or bad. I am opposed to insecure technology being used to generate big data for power cartels at the cost of citizens. Benefiting the government and benefiting the nation are not necessarily the same thing. Just like dissent is a right and opposing the government is not anti-national. A government is a temporary entity that changes every five years. My nationality doesn't change every five years. Get your civics right and a lot of these government peddling issues will get sorted.

Why speak half-truths and ignore the lakhs of people who are getting benefits for the first time because of Aadhaar?

Next you will say babies are being conceived because of Aadhaar only. In a country this size, people are constantly becoming eligible for something or the other. It isn't because of Aadhaar. Aadhaar makes you eligible for zero benefits. It is simply the dog in the manger inserted by the government that PREVENTS otherwise eligible people from getting benefits because the government chooses to deprive them unless they surrender their privacy for it. Think about it. It is actually an imposed indignity. I will forcibly take your fingerprints if you want the pension you spent your entire career working towards. This is helplessness. Not benefit.

Cleaning up the PDS system - for example - requires cleaning up the PDS system. It doesn't take fingerprints to know whether someone is eligible for PDS. But authentication issues sure have deprived loads of people whom you are ignoring while pointing fingers in an increasingly crazed manner.

And this is me talking because you irritated enough people that they pesterd me to reply, but the information is from the government. Most people who got Aadhaar already had documents to provide proof of address and identity for it.

 

And so on. Not bothering to read or reply further. Because personal attacks are not arguments and this is plenty to entertain those who wanted to see you get a reply. Just because you make an assumption doesn't mean it is true. Nor are you relevant enough to the larger picture to take seriously.

Return with data, technical arguments, fact based information that isn't just "But why don't you ignore all the ghastly stuff and just meditate on all the pretty?" or consider this post the answer for anything you write on the subject till eternity.