Lok Sabha approves bill to curb Aadhaar misuse
The Lok Sabha on Thursday approved the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that aims to curb misuse of Aadhaar, the unique ID number, and which will allow individuals to voluntarily offer biometric details as identity proof for obtaining services offered by private firms such as telcos and banks.
The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed by a voice vote after union minister for information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad assured the lower house that Aadhaar is voluntary and that consent of the biometric identity holder has to be obtained before it is used.
“The amendments address privacy and security concerns. They provide that no service or benefit of any scheme will be denied for lack of Aadhaar,” he said.
The minister also defended the bill. “ My biometric details which are in the system cannot be accessed under any provision, and it has been written under the law. People have given us the majority to frame laws, does not mean we are violating the Supreme Court’s judgment,” he said.
The legislation comes against the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgment striking down portions of the Aadhaar Act, in particular its Section 57, which allowed non-government entities access to the identity database.
Experts and opposition members called the move to restore the access controversial. The bill was opposed by Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who argued that the government used the ordinance route to bring in the legislation.
“This government does not believe in Jio aur Jeene Do (live and let live); it only believes in Jio Jio Jio,” Chowdhury said, referring to telco Jio. “The Bill is unconstitutional and a violation of the Supreme Court’s order” he said. TMC MP Mahua Moitra also opposed the bill citing security concerns.
“I’m giving up my bio-metric data, my most personal data to a pvt agency. If Aadhar ecosystem fails you’re saying that there are viable means to recourse but I don’t know what they are. They haven’t been specified. There is no standard of privacy and security today. There is no Data Protection Act. In the absence of a data protection how can you ask me to give up my information to a private agency? This is integral to the Bill, you can’t have cart before the horse,” she added.