Soon, Aadhaar details will be optional for bank accounts, SIM-cards
On the first day of the Winter Session of the Parliament, the Modi government has decided to make Aadhaar details optional for those applying for new mobile connections and those opening new bank accounts. A cabinet note seeking requisite amendments to the Aadhaar Act, 2016 has reportedly already been moved in the Parliament. Here are the details.
What amendments the government is looking to make
The main amendment in the Aadhaar Act, 2016 would be to delete Section 57 of the Act. Deleting this particular section would make the use of Aadhaar optional. However, the department of electronics and information technology has argued against the proposed move, saying that Aadhaar has become the sole identity for a large section of the population, and making it optional could be disruptive.
What the controversial Section 57 is essentially about
Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act enabled not only the state, but also "any body corporate or person" to demand Aadhaar details for identification. The section essentially gave statutory support to private companies like telecom companies, banks etc. to ask for Aadhaar details from customers.
Measures to be taken to ensure tighter data security
Other proposed changes to the Aadhaar Act involve provisions to ensure tighter data security. The UIDAI, for its part, would seek minimal personal data for Aadhaar enrolment, and authentication has to be done by two entities in offline mode. Additionally, new rules would also ensure that disclosure of Aadhaar data cannot be ordered by any entity below the High Court level.
UIDAI could be made into an independent authority
The government is also looking to turn UIDAI into an independent authority that will have the requisite manpower and financial resources required to keep pace with changing technologies. Further, UIDAI's regulatory powers are likely to be increased, and will include the power to penalize people and organizations that demand Aadhaar data without approval.
The proposed changes come in the backdrop of SC's verdict
The proposed changes to the Aadhaar Act come in the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgment on the constitutional validity of Aadhaar. In its September 26 verdict, the apex court had held that Aadhaar was valid, but had struck down provisions that made Aadhaar mandatory for access to banking, getting a mobile connection etc. However, the SC had maintained that PAN-Aadhaar linking was mandatory.