Aadhaar is a 12-digit, Unique Identification Number issued by the government of India. The Aadhaar serves as a proof of your address and other crucial details. It also links your bank accounts to the various subsidies and benefits that are offered by the Indian government time to time. The Aadhaar technology relies on the biometric information of the person. Biometric includes iris recognition and fingerprints. While the ruling government is in the process to implement various subsidy schemes and digitization of the crucial data the opposition feels that the privacy of the individual is at the stake. Let’s have a look at the 10 benefits that Aadhaar provides to the Indian citizens that you may have not yet aware of.
[su_expand more_text=”READ MORE” less_text=” ” height=”0″ hide_less=”yes” link_style=”button” link_align=”center”] The current Finance minister of India, Shri Arun Jaitley had introduced The Aadhaar bill in March 2016 as the base of delivery of financial and other subsidies and benefits to the card holders in the amid protests over the issue that the bill was categorized as money bill which does not need the approval of the Rajya Sabha. Somehow Jaitley managed to convince that that bill falls within the ambit of a ‘Money Bill’. While doing the above he went reminding the congress that bills like the juvenile justice bill and the workman injury compensation bill that the Congress brought as money bills when it was in power.
Based on the Indian constitution the money bills can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha which is the upper house and where the NDA lacks a majority, they can only make recommendations but no amendments. The Rajya Sabha has to return money bills to the Lower House within 14 days from the date of receipt, failing which it is considered approved.
LET’S HAVE A LOOK AT THE 10 FACTS THAT YOU MAY NOT BE AWARE OF
- Aadhaar number is mandatory for everyone
Aadhaar has been now made mandatory for availing all the available subsidies and benefits from the state. In the event of the Aadhaar number has not been an issue to an individual the same shall be offered an alternative. However, considering Aadhaar’s extensive coverage which has reached close to one billion the Aadhaar numbers have been issued and the exceptions will soon be obsolete. It is open for private parties to use Aadhaar for authentication if they want to.
- Aadhaar has informed consent facility
“Informed consent” is a must for collecting identity information. Every individual who submits his identity information for authentication will be informed about the nature of the information that may be shared upon authentication; the uses to which the information received during authentication may be put and the alternatives to submission of identity information to the requesting entity.
- Aadhar is not a proof of citizenship or domicile
In case you do not have the Aadhaar, please don’t get tensed since the Aadhaar is neither a proof of citizenship nor a domicile certificate. It is just a proof of your identity and not your citizenship. It is the misconception that is being gone around for quite some time that if you do not have the Aadhaar you may lose your citizenship or may oust from India as illegal migrants. It is all baseless claim that Aadhar claims citizenship.
- Aadhaar does not hold any discriminatory information
The information in the Aadhaar does not include data related to race, religion, caste, tribe, ethnicity, language, records of entitlement, income or medical history. It is just an identity of the person residing in India that is connected to the main server and helps the individuals to avail the subsidies and benefits declared by the Indian government time to time.
- Aadhaar card holders do not have access to their information
Yes, you heard it right. Even the Aadhaar card holders themselves do not have an access to their core biometric information such as iris scan or fingerprints stored in the Central Identities Data Repository. Although he or she can request access to other identity information such as Aadhaar number, demographic information, and photograph.
- The Aadhaar biometric information is completely private
The Aadhaar Bill does not allow anyone to share the core biometric data, not even for National Security purpose. However, section 29(4) creates a bit of ambiguity by providing for exceptions “as may be -specified by regulations”.
- Aadhaar biometric information is labeled as sensitive personal data
The Biometric Information is considered to be “sensitive personal data or information”. The Bill makes rules under the Information Technology Act, 2000, applicable to this information in addition to the penal provisions provided in the Bill.
- Courts may have a limited access to the Aadhaar information
The Indian Courts may have the powers to ask for the disclosure of information, including identity information or authentication records, but they must hear the Unique Identification Authority first. Core biometric information is excluded from this access, though.
- Indian government can access or disclose the information
In a special case and towards the interest of national security the government can have an access to the similar information although the access to the biometric data is excluded here. The direction must be issued by an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary or above authorized by an order of the central government. There is a provision for review of such direction by an oversight Committee having a cabinet secretary and the secretaries in the Department of Legal Affairs and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology.
- Bill provides the complete protection of your privacy
The Aadhaar bill provides complete protection against privacy and identity-related crimes and data frauds such as impersonation, the disclosure of identity information and an unauthorized access to Central Identities Data Repository, tampering with data and non-compliance with intimation requirements.
Original Text by Prashant Narang who is an Advocate with iJustice, a public interest initiative of the Centre for Civil Society