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Bill to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar ID

The Bill also makes it clear that anyone not offering Aadhaar cannot be denied any service, be it a bank account or a SIM card.

The Bill seeks to amend the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

The legislation proposes telecom service providers, apart from using Aadhaar for authentication, can leverage offline verification, use of passport, or any other officially valid document or modes of identification as notified by the Central government. The amendments, according to the objects and reasons for the Bill, will “provide for 12-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative numbers to be generated” in a manner so as to conceal the actual Aadhaar number.

It would also “permit the entities performing authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security.” The Bill seeks to lay down the procedure for offline verification of an Aadhaar number holder, and confers enhanced regulator-like power on the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to give directions as it may consider necessary to any entity in the Aadhaar ecosystem.

It says that every requesting entity to whom an authentication request is made, will inform the Aadhaar number holder of alternative and viable means of identification and shall not deny any service to them for refusing to, or being unable to undergo authentication.

Mandatory authentication of an Aadhaar holder for the provision of any service will take place if such authentication is required by a law made by Parliament. The Bill proposes a civil penalty of up to Rs. 1 crore on entities that violate the the Aadhaar Act, with an additional fine of up to Rs. 10 lakh per day in case of continuous non-compliance.

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