Biometric data of 99 cr Indians collected; data encrypted: Govt

Biometric data of 99 cr Indians collected data encryptedGovtNEW DELHI: Biometric data of about 99 crore Indians have been collected so far under Aadhar scheme and the data is encrypted and its secrecy and security ensured, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also set aside fears of members on the data collected under Aadhar and said it is sorted within the country at data centers in Bangalore and Manesar and no foreign agency is involved in data collection.

“Today we have got 99 crore Indians on Aadhar. In case of Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, Rs 15,000 crore was saved and in case of PDS, Rs 2,346 crore was saved in four states.

“As far as privacy part is concerned, I want to assure this House that under the architecture which was started by your government, all the care has been taken to ensure its privacy,” he said during Question Hour.

He said as far as the legislation in this regard is concerned, the House will get the occasion to examine it and there are privacy provisions in it.

“As far as I can recall, the core biometerics cannot be shared even with the consent with its owner,” he said, adding that all apprehensions will be allayed when it comes up before the House. The bill is pending before the Lok Sabha.

Prasad said “as of now, the issue of challenge to Aadhar is pending before a constitution bench of the Supreme Court which had passed certain interim orders. Thereafter, the Authority and many other bodies went (to it) and Supreme Court has permitted invoking the benefits through the Aadhar platform for a variety of services including MNREGA.”

“It only will create an enabling atmosphere through the platform of Aadhar, depending upon how you choose the particular service to be delivered by various government departments,” he said.

As regards the agency which undertakes the data collection, there is a three-tier architecture – first the state government, public sector banks and the common service centre.

“No agency linked to any foreign agency is there in this,” Prasad said, adding that once the biometrics is collected, it gets encrypted immediately and its sanctity is maintained.

“There are nearly 99 crore data (which have been collected) and no allegations have come that my knowledge that the biometrics have been sought to be abused or it has been pilfered,” he said. Maintaining that the Aadhar data storage centers are located in Bangalore and Manesar in Haryana, the Minister said “We take periodic monitoring. It is a very strict encrypted mechanism available to ensure the secrecy and privacy.”

However, he admitted that private agencies are involved as data of such a massive number of people cannot be undertaken by government alone. But the registrar is the state government, public sector banks and the common service centre.

“The data is always encrypted. I have tried to know it myself. Suppose an agency is collecting the data to give their Aadhar number and the moment data is encrypted, it is sent to the data centre. Therefore, the secrecy is maintained everywhere,” Prasad said.

In his written reply, he said, to bring in a legislation in line with emerging issues relating to Aadhar, government has introduced the Aadhar (Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Bill, 2016 in Lok Sabha. Subsequently the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 has since been withdrawn from Rajya Sabha.–PTI

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