A day before Supreme Court began hearing pleas against mandatory linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts, phones and various other services, some activists started a citizen-friendly website, called Speakforme.in, where citizens can complain against calls and messages for linking Aadhaar card to avail services.
The move came on Wednesday, Dec 13, even as the Centre extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar card numbers with bank accounts.
Following government’s order to link bank accounts and mobile phone connections with Aadhaar, banks and mobile operators have been sending messaging and mailing their customers asking them to link their accounts before the last dates to complete the activity. Since the whole issue of whether the government could make such linking mandatory without infringing on individuals’ fundamental rights, the repeated exhortations through such notifications was seen as an unnecessary annoyance by many.
Using this website, people can reach out to the concerned MPs, mobile operators, banks along with other government service providers and file complaints about the repetitive annoyance that is being caused to them.
Founders of Speakforme.in said that they received over 1,000 emails within 3 hours of the website going live, the Times of India (ToI) reported.
Of the emails were received with the first 3 hours, at least 780 were addressed to the MPs, said media reports.
The website has reportedly been formed by a group of people that includes about 90 volunteers, who in the past had been a part of the campaign for net neutrality two years back. Kiran Jonnalagadda, a Bengaluru-based IT professional is the chief among them.
ToI quoted him as saying that they want Parliament to discuss this. “Everyone has been receiving harassing SMSes and calls to link their Aadhaar to mobile phones and bank accounts. This is coercion. The technology behind Aadhaar is broken in various ways. Coercion will make it worse. It has to be fixed before it is forced on people,” he said.
“The Parliament’s winter session begins tomorrow (Friday). We are hoping that if enough people write to their MPs by then, it should compel the latter to take up the issue in the Parliament,” Kiran said, according to media reports.
Another member of the team is founder of Medianama.com, Nikhil Pahwa. Talking about issue of linking Aadhaar to all the major services that are running in the country, Pahwa said that if all your services are linked to it, then Aadhaar becomes a kill switch, reported the ToI. He added, “You can be disconnected by the government for no reason. There is also the issue of mass surveillance, when Aadhaar is used along with NATGRID, which is a surveillance system the government is setting up.”
Through the Speakforme.in forum, while writing say to an MP, a person can select his or her state and constituency from a drop-down menu. The website will pull out the relevant MP’s email address, using publicly available information about the MPs online. The user can then send a template email demanding that Aadhaar be made non-mandatory. The letter can be edited and customised before sending as well.