Govt serious about protecting Aadhaar data: Union minister

By PTI Published on Jul 20, 2018 04:53 PM IST

New Delhi: The government is serious about protecting Aaadhar data and has appealed to people not to give social platforms a blanket consent to their data, Information Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said today.

Prasad also said that the government is awaiting a report by a committee of experts on data protection chaired by Justice B N Srikrishna.

"Aadhaar today is backed by a proper law passed by the Parliament, which contains robust security measures and protects privacy... The UIDAI continues to update security architecture to ensure there is no breach of data", he said.

Even the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have recognised Aadhaar as a fine instrument of governance and delivery, he said.

Prasad also added, "A committee of experts on Data Protection, chaired by Justice BN Srikrishna has been constituted to look into aspects pertaining to data protection. The Committee has come out with a white paper for wider public review and...has also conducted stakeholders' consultation meetings and is in the process of finalising its report on data protection framework in India."

He said there should be a pragmatic blend of issues of privacy and emergence of digital power. "Today, India is emerging as a digital power. While we completely acknowledge the right to privacy ... privacy cannot become the plea of terrorists and the corrupt. This we have to acknowledge... While respecting the mandate of privacy, India is emerging as a big power in digital field that should not be compromised", he said

Prasad also noted that the government has issued a stern warning to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica against the use of data and they had apologised. The minister appealed to consumers not to give social platforms blanket permission to use their data.

Aadhaar, he said, has evolved as an instrument for promoting good governance and in enabling the poor to rightfully secure their due benefits through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, which number 60.22 crore as of June 30, 2018. Aadhaar has been issued to 121.65 crore people, and "we do daily authentication of 3.5 crore Aadhaar", he said.

Stressing that Aadhaar has become a platform for good governance, he said, some people wanted a technological alternative so that they are not required to use Aadhaar for authentication. "The government took their suggestion seriously."

Prasad said for those using virtual ID (VID), authentication is done without using Aadhaar. "We have taken a pragmatic view - those who want to use virtual ID they can and those who cannot operate should be given the freedom to use Aadhaar", he said.

He also said VID is a temporary, revocable 16-digit random number mapped with the Aadhaar number, and the Aaadhar number holder can use VID in lieu of Aaadhar number for authentication purposes. The UIDAI has directed all entities to upgrade to VID system.