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iasparliament
January 08, 2019
3 months
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Why in news?

The Lok Sabha recently passed The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

What is the need?

  • Verdict - The changes follow the recent Supreme Court’s verdict in regards with Aadhaar.
  • It upheld Aadhaar but limited its use for only certain subsidies and schemes funded by the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • The court disallowed private companies from asking for Aadhaar for authentication.
  • The amendments now seek to work on some of the restrictions imposed by the court.
  • Regulation - Over 122 crore Aadhaar numbers were issued over the period.
  • So, given the widespread use of Aadhaar, it is essential to have a regulatory framework for its operation.
  • Also, UIDAI needed to be empowered to take enforcement actions against errant entities.

What is the Bill's objective?

  • The objective is to amend the laws relating to the use of Aadhaar and the powers of the Unique Identification Authority of India.
  • The Bill seeks to amend at least 27 sections of three existing laws. These are:
  1. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016
  2. The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885
  3. The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
  • The most important changes are to
  1. allow children the chance to exit the Aadhaar ecosystem once they turn 18 years old
  2. expand the scope of Aadhaar being used by entities that was restricted by the Supreme Court
  3. create a UIDAI fund
  4. provide legal backing for Aadhaar to be used voluntarily as proof of identity to open bank accounts and for mobile phone SIM cards

What are the major provisions?

  • Aadhaar for authentication - The Aadhaar Act allowed for the state and any body corporate, Aadhaar-based authentications.
  • But the SC had said that Aadhaar can only be sought for welfare schemes and subsidies mentioned in Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act.
  • The amendments now say the central government can allow Aadhaar-based authentications, in consultation with the UIDAI.
  • But this is only -
  1. if the entity is compliant with certain standards of privacy and security specified by the UIDAI
  2. if it is permitted by law
  3. for any purpose that the central government feels is in the interest of the state
  • The changes to The Indian Telegraph Act and The Prevention of Money Laundering Act allow banks and telecom companies to use Aadhaar.
  • But this is only in case if it is offered voluntarily by a person as a Know Your Customer (KYC) document or the only KYC document.
  • But neither of the entities can make it mandatory.
  • A person will have the choice to use any other valid document for KYC.
  • The central government can, through a notification, allow a non-banking company too, if necessary, to perform such authentications.
  • Aadhaar for children - The amendments say that at the time of enrolment the parents or guardians of the children would have to provide consent.
  • The agency must apprise them of how the information will be used, whom it will be shared with, and other rights.
  • They also allow for the children to apply for cancellation of their Aadhaar number within 6 months of achieving adulthood.
  • Complaints and penalties - The original Act permitted only the UIDAI or officers authorised by it to make complaints in case of violations.
  • With the amendments, individuals will be able to register complaints in certain cases.
  • This can include impersonation, or if their Aadhaar information is disclosed without their consent.
  • The amendments also give UIDAI the power to issue directions to entities in the Aadhaar ecosystem.
  • The penalties to be decided by an adjudicating officer appointed by UIDAI for violations have been increased to a maximum of Rs 1 crore in certain cases.
  • In case of a continuing failure, additional penalty may extend to ten lakh rupees for every day.
  • The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal has been made the Appellate Tribunal for such cases.
  • Offline verification, voluntary use - The Aadhaar Act only allowed Aadhaar to be used “subject to authentication”.
  • It works when a person’s biometric information results in a positive match with the Central Identities Data Recovery information.
  • This has now been changed to use it by authentication or even offline verification.
  • The verification can be done “offline”, using a digitally signed copy of the Aadhaar card.
  • This contains the person’s photograph, selected information and a QR code, but not the biometric information, and need not include the Aadhaar number.
  • Also, people can use Aadhaar as an ID proof voluntarily, without having to authenticate.
  • UIDAI Fund - Currently, the UIDAI deposits whatever revenue it collects in the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • The amendments create a UIDAI Fund, which will now receive its revenues from fees, grants and charges.
  • The revenue will be used for UIDAI’s expenses.
  • Other amendments - In compliance with the SC's order, only High Courts (not district courts) can ask for disclosure of Aadhaar-related information.
  • Only an officer of the rank of Secretary (not Joint Secretary, as earlier provisioned) can issue directions for such information in the “interest of national security”.
  • The changes have made provisions for the use of virtual IDs to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual.
  • Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act relating to use of Aadhaar by private entities has been omitted, as it was struck down by the SC.

 

Source: Indian Express

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