Agencies in possession of Aadhaar number of an individual will not be allowed to publish or post the information publicly and will have to ensure security and confidentiality of the 12-digit resident identification number under the Aadhaar Act. The move to restrict sharing and circulation of Aadhaar numbers comes as part of UIDAI’s efforts to ensure the information is not misused.
Under the recently notified regulations, these agencies have also been mandated to inform Aadhaar holders the purpose for which their details will be used. As per the rules, the core biometric information, collected by the Authority, cannot be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever.
“The data he (resident) has given, that data is now also secure and protected… it casts responsibility on UIDAI and other agencies that use his Aadhaar number for various purposes to protect his identity and data and maintain confidentiality,” Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told PTI. Any violation of the Aadhaar Act will constitute an offence and is punishable under the Act, he added.
Under the Act, penalty has been prescribed for offences such as impersonation of the Aadhaar holder at the time of enrolment, tampering with data in the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) and disclosing identity information.
Based on the offence, the penalty could go up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh or both. The Act specifies a stiff penalty of at least Rs 10 lakh for unauthorised access to CIDR. The agencies that collect the Aadhaar number will also have to specify whether submission of the number or proof of Aadhaar is mandatory or voluntary. In case it is voluntary, the agencies will then have to specify “alternatives” to the Aadhaar document.
The regulations also provide for obtaining consent of the Aadhaar number holder for collection, storage and use of the same for specified purposes.
Besides, to ensure data is secure, UIDAI has mandated that these agencies have their data centres — the ones used for Aadhaar authentication and routing through CIDR — within India. UIDAI will also set up a contact centre for resolution of queries and grievances of residents. Asked if Aadhaar will be mandatory for availing government schemes and subsidies, Pandey replied in the affirmative. Central and state governments will have to notify schemes for which furnishing Aadhaar will be required, he said.
“Those who do not have Aadhaar will be directed for enrolment at a nearby centre… In case after enrolment it is taking time and Aadhaar is not assigned, then there has to be a mechanism for alternative means of identification,” he said.
Pandey added that the department concerned will have to specify such alternative means of identification, based on which the benefit will be given.