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Aadhaar Bill to ensure privacy protection

March 03, 2016 08:30 IST

The UIDAI, set up in 2009, will manage the generation and authentication of Aadhaar numbers. 

The government could introduce a regulatory framework to ensure that the biometric details of citizens it collects is kept discreet and used only to generate Aadhaar numbers or authenticate them. 

The Aadhaar Bill, which could be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, is likely to introduce this regulatory framework.

It could also to propose that in cases of national security, an officer not below the rank of a joint secretary will be empowered to call for disclosure of such information. 

According to the revised list of business of the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would introduce The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 on Thursday.

It would be a money Bill, since it specifies its objective to provide targeted delivery of subsidies, expenditure of which will be incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India. 

A money Bill can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha. The decision of the Speaker is final and cannot be challenged on whether or not a Bill is one.

Such a Bill cannot be referred to a joint committee of the two Houses. The government enjoys a majority in the Lok Sabha and has ensured passage of several key Bills in the House only to find these stuck in the Rajya Sabha, where it is in a minority. 

Sources said the Bill could propose imprisonment of up to three years and fine of Rs 10,000, which will be Rs 1 lakh in the case of a company, for disclosing or sharing of the core biometric information.

The Bill, it is understood, could entail upon the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to take all necessary steps to ensure the confidentiality of identity information by protecting it against access of disclosure or accidental and intentional damage. 

The information could be stored in a centralised database of biometrics, the Central Identities Data Repository.

The UIDAI will not only take all appropriate technical measures but also ensure that any agency it hires will follow these security measures. 

The Bill is likely to propose that no core biometric information will be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever other than for generation and authentication of Aadhaar numbers. 

Information other than core biometrics may be allowed to be shared under the rules - that are yet to be framed. Identity information cannot be disclosed further, except with the prior consent of the individual.

The biometric information would be considered "electronic record" and "sensitive personal data or information". 

However, an officer not below the rank of a joint secretary, specially authorised for the purpose by the government, would order the disclosure of information in the interest of national security.

It is also learnt that an "oversight committee", consisting of the Cabinet secretary and the secretaries in the Department of Legal Affairs and Department of Electronics and Information Technology, would review such a decision before the information is disclosed. 

The UIDAI, set up in 2009, will manage the generation and authentication of Aadhaar numbers.

The Bill, it is learnt, could propose that the authority will have a chairperson, two part-time members and a chief executive officer for a term of three years but eligible for reappointment. 

ON GUARD

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley likely to introduce the Aadhaar Bill in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Some of its key features are likely to be:
  • It would be a money Bill 
  • Could propose strict penalty for disclosing of core biometric information 
  • UIDAI to take all steps to ensure privacy of information 
  • Information is to be stored in the Central Identities Data Repository, a centralised database 
  • UIDAI-hired agencies/consultants to also implement technical measures to ensure privacy 
  • In case of a national security, an officer not below joint secretary to take a call 
  • Oversight committee, headed by the Cabinet secretary, to review each decision before the information is disclosed
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