Law to secure Aadhaar data soon: Prasad

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. (Photo credit: PTI)

The central government on Monday assured the Parliament that it would come out with a data protection law to secure Aadhaar data as the Rajya Sabha put its stamp of approval on the contentious legislation on Monday.

The assurance from Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad came after the opposition  accused the government of subverting a Supreme Court ruling with provisions that can make Aadhaar data accessible to commercial entities under certain circumstances in the absence of a data security law.

“The (NDA) government has not even attempted to place in this House a data protection act to deal with data collection, data transfer, data misuse, snooping, surveillance and putting the cart completely before the horse. In fact, this is not just the cart before the horse. The cart is finishing the race line and the horse is still bolted inside?” said Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Questioning the government’s motive for not bringing out a data protection law, Singhvi said he had no problems with the bill and the amendments, if there was a data protection law.

“From 2016 till 28th February 2019, for three years, you got no data protection act. You got an ordinance instead. Are you saying that you want to misuse data and hence do not have a data protection act in place,” Singhvi asked.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the bill contained provisions using which “favoured treatment” could be given to “telecom service providers, banks and financial institutions.” 

Prasad countered the charges. “We will bring a comprehensive data protection law. Data sovereignty is integral to us and it will never be compromised. People like Bill Gates and Thomas Friedman are appreciating Aadhaar. We are not touching the architecture of Aadhaar, we are only changing the concerned law,” he said.

Prasad said that 123.81 crore Indians had Aadhaar. “There are 69.38 crore mobile numbers that are linked with Aadhaar, 65.91 crore bank accounts are linked with Aadhaar. We have sent Direct Benefit Transfer of Rs 7.48 lakh crore in more than 240 schemes to the people around the country. And we have saved Rs 1.41 lakh crore,” Prasad said.

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