Mar 03, 2016
Dec 13, 2011
The central government plans to issue a unique identification number (called Aadhaar) to every resident of India. The number shall be linked to a resident’s demographic and biometric information. A resident can use his Aadhaar number to identify himself anywhere in the country in order to access certain benefits and services. The Bill seeks to establish the National Identification Authority and lay down the properties of Aadhaar, process of issuing the Aadhaar and safeguards for protection of privacy of Aadhaar number holders.
Highlights of the Bill
- The Bill seeks to establish the National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) to issue unique identification numbers (called ‘Aadhaar’) to residents of India.
- Every person residing in India is entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number after furnishing relevant demographic and biometric information. No information related to race, religion, caste, language, income or health shall be collected.
- The information collected shall be stored in the Central Identities Data Repository. This shall be used to provide authentication services.
- Sharing of data is prohibited except by the consent of the resident; by a court order; or for national security, if directed by an authorised official of the rank of Joint Secretary or above.
- The Bill also establishes an Identity Review Committee which shall monitor the usage patterns of Aadhaar numbers.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Bill does not make it mandatory for an individual to enroll with the NIAI. However, it does not prevent any service provider from prescribing Aadhaar as a mandatory requirement for availing services.
- The information collected by NIAI may be shared with agencies engaged in delivery of public benefits and services with prior written consent of the Aadhaar holder. The safeguards provided for preventing misuse of this information may be inadequate.
- The Bill requires the NIAI to disclose identity information in the interest of national security, if so directed by an authorised officer. The safeguards for protection of privacy differ from the Supreme Court guidelines on telephone tapping.
- The Bill states that no court shall take cognizance of any offence, except on a complaint made by the NIAI. This could result in a conflict of interest situation if the offence is committed by a member of the NIAI.
- Details of demographic and biometric information to be recorded have been left to regulations. This empowers the NIAI to collect additional information without prior approval from Parliament.