Parliament passes Aadhaar amendment bill

Parliament on Monday passed an amendment bill which allows voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity for users to open bank accounts and get mobile phone connections.

The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in Rajya Sabha by a voice vote, although many parties including the Trinamool Congress and DMK opposed it citing various reasons, including apprehensions data theft.

The amendment bill, which also provides for a stiff Rs one crore penalty and a jail term for private entities for violating provisions on Aadhaar data, was earlier passed by Lok Sabha on July 4. It was introduced on June 24 to replace an ordinance issued in March 2019.

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

Put simply, this means it will allow voluntary use of Aadhaar number for authentication and identity proof in opening bank accounts and procuring mobile phone connections.

It also gives option to children to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age, while stipulating stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy.

Replying to a debate on the matter, Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Aadhaar was a foolproof system and over 123 crore people were currently using it in the country.

Allaying fears of Opposition on data leakages, he said the Aadhaar system had enough safeguards to ensure privacy of the card holder.

Displaying his personal Aadhaar card in the House, the Minister said it only discloses his name, father's name, date of birth, residential address and does not give out any information on medical records or details of caste, religion and community.

Aadhaar data can only be shared when there is a threat to national security or there is court order, he added.

(Agencies)