Parliament on Monday cleared the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which allows voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity for users to open bank accounts and get mobile phone connections.
Rajya Sabha cleared the bill through a voice vote on Monday. It was scleared by Lok Sabha on July 4.
However, the opposition questioned the government’s “intentions” on clearing the bill without first bringing in a law for data protection.
Answering the opposition questions, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Rajya Sabha that the legislation on data protection was a “work in progress” and the government would bring in a comprehensive law after further consultations with the stakeholders.
“Data sovereignty is important to us and it will not be compromised,” Mr Prasad said.
He said that India in future will become the centre of data refinery and the government is taking due precaution in constructing the data protection law because the world is looking at India to take the lead on the issue.
Mr. Prasad also sought to remind the opposition that it’s the Congress that had first brought in Aadhaar, but it had no legislative basis. To the allegation that the new law distorts the Supreme Court judgement, he said, “I would like to gently remind this house that both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have the right to undo a Supreme Court judgement.”
He asserted that the Aadhaar is completely safe and sound with all necessary encryption. “No core biometric information collected or created for this act shall be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever,” Mr Prasad said, quoting from the legislation.
The only exception will be made for reasons of national security, he said.
The Bill provides for a ₹1 crore penalty and a jail term for private entities violating provisions on Aadhaar data.