LS okays Aadhaar Bill

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The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill that allows making use of Aadhaar as proof of identity voluntarily for opening bank accounts or buying a mobile phone connection.

The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill was passed by a voice vote after Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad assured the Lok Sabha on the safety and security of the biometric data gathered by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI).

“All safeguards are in place to prohibit misuse of Aadhaar biometrics. Iris and fingerprint data is stored in Indian machinery and it is safe and secure,” Prasad said.

Seeking to allay the fears of members on the access to Aadhaar data, he said it can be granted only in case of a threat to national security or on court orders.

“Even if I, as an Information Technology Minister, seek Aadhaar data, I will be subjected to three years of punishment,” Prasad said.

The Minister added that the government would soon bring a data protection legislation as it believes that India's data sovereignty has to be respected and the country should have a data analytics centre.

The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, seeks to replace an Ordinance issued in March 2019.

The amendments provide for use of Aadhaar number for KYC authentication on a voluntary basis under the Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

It gives the option for children to exit from the biometric ID programme once they are 18 years old and stipulates stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy.

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