Privacy argument against Aadhaar shouldn't shield terror modules: Law minister

Privacy argument against Aadhaar shouldn't shield terror modules: Law minister

Allaying fears of Aadhaar compromising data privacy, Union law and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said privacy argument should not "prohibit innovation" and "shield the corrupt and terrorists."

He was speaking at a newspaper event, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Aadhaar would be used to unearth dubious property transactions, better known as "benami dealings."

"Privacy can't become the shield of the corrupt and terrorists," he said. "Aadhaar is digital identity to supplement physical identity."

Prasad said the government will come up with a data-protection law that will be a beacon for the world.

"This is my Aadhaar ... It does not contain my caste, my community, my religion, my income. But the system contains my fingerprint and my iris," he said, showing his Aadhaar card to the audience.

Prasad was responding to criticism that Aadhaar is an intrusive tool open to misuse by the government, which has collected fingerprints, iris scans and personal details of more than 80% of the country's 1.25 billion people.

The Supreme Court ruled recently that individual privacy is a fundamental right, a verdict that many say will test the validity of the biometric identification project, already facing legal challenges.

SC to hear

A nine-judge Constitution bench of the top court is due to hear this month a batch of petitions challenging the legality of the Aadhaar law and government notifications for linking the identification number with bank accounts and cell phone numbers.

Prasad said the government's position on linking bank accounts with Aadhaar was clear. He said, "50 crore people have voluntarily linked 81 crore bank accounts to Aadhaar cards. I don't understand why there's opposition to the government initiative by other people?"

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