Amid concerns of the right to privacy and data security, the Minister of Electronic, Information and Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad has tabled The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment Bill) 2018 for consideration and passing. It can be read here.

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MP Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress, Shashi Tharoor of the Indian National Congress and NK Premchandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party opposed the introduction of the bill. However, the introduction was passed via voice vote.

  • “The government has announced that they will enact data protection law but where is it now?” asked Tharoor. “Aadhaar is not identification, rather it is a process of authentication as under the UIDAI.”
  • The original definition of Aadhaar has changed completely through the amendment, the government is getting the ultimate authority to decide everything related to identification, said Premchandran.

Defending the amendments in the Act, RS Prasad said, “Whatever gaps the SC has raised, through the Bill we are addressing that.” Regarding privacy he said, “There is no risk of data theft. Data protection law is ready, we shall be coming soon in the House with it. Aadhaar is a robust success story of the country. All the objections are misplaced.”

Prasad also said that the government is not violating the Supreme Court’s judgement but that the Parliament has the authority to move a bill on the basis of the judgement.

Earlier, the Cabinet had approved the amendment of three laws- The Telegraph Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Aadhaar Act – to allow private bodies such as banks and telcos to allow Aadhaar as one of the ‘know your customer’ (KYC) methods.

Proposed amendments

The government has proposed a penalty of up to Rs 1 crore on entities that violate the provisions of Aadhaar Act.

  • There is an additional fine of Rs 10 lakh per day in case of continuous non-compliance.
  • Children with an Aadhaar card will have the option of opting out within a period of six months upon attaining the age of 18.
  • Parent or guardian consent is a must for enrolling a child in the Aadhaar scheme.
  • No child to be denied any subsidy, benefits or services for the want of Aadhaar.
  • Provision for the use of Virtual ID and other offline modes of Aadhaar.
  • Punishment extended from 3 years to 10 years of imprisonment for an unauthorised access to Central Identities data repository.

The amendment comes in the light of the Supreme Court judgement from September 2018, wherein the Court had upheld the validity of Aadhaar Act. However, it had limited the Aadhaar authentication for services, subsidy and benefits under Section 7 of the Act.