NEW DELHI: The Trinamool Congress and various other political parties on Thursday opposed amendments to the Aadhaar law, saying it lacks transparency and strikes at the very heart of individual privacy.
Participating in the debate on The Aadhaar and other Services (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha, Mahua Moitra said the bill speaks of a regulator which will govern various provisions.
She said there are no details of the proposed regulator in the bill, which makes it opaque.
She said the regulator should be integrated in the bill itself.
Referring to the "Aadhaar ecosystem", she sought to know the legal recourse one can take if the ecosystem fails.
"Without a data protection law, it is like putting cart before the horse," she said.
Moitra claimed that Aadhaar was perceived as a system to enable the poor to get services, but that now, it has turned into an "acquisitive" entity.
She also questioned a provision which says that the "authority" will have a right to legal recourse in case of a data breach.
She said the legal recourse should lie with the person whose privacy has been breached.
She said most people are not aware of the value of personal data.
To drive home her point, she said many people shared their data to get a Jio sim card which was offering free data.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, said the government used the ordinance route to bring in the legislation.
He said the ordinance was issued by the last government (from 2014-19) and the current government has brought it as legislation.
The government is "resorting to the ordinance route without any rhyme and reason".
Chowdhury said it was the UPA government, which brought in the law, to which Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the NDA government gave legal status to Aadhaar.
"You have loaned the concept of Aadhaar from us (Aapne Aadhaar udhaar liya hain)," he said. Chowdhury said the Supreme Court had also rapped the government for violating privacy in Aadhaar.
Prasad said, "Under you (the UPA), Aadhaar lacked any backing (Aadhaar niradhar tha). We made a law for it". The minister said Rs 7. 84 lakh crore was sent through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to beneficiaries under different schemes. Nearly 1. 41 lakh crore have been saved from middlemen.
He said 123.81 crore people have Aadhaar cards and nearly 6.91 crore bank accounts have been linked to it.
BJD backs the amendment, pitches for data protection laws
The Biju Janata Dal on Thursday supported amendments to the Aadhaar legislation but pitched for bringing a data protection law, saying certain "egregious" agencies are using the private data of individuals for their benefit and the issue could snowball in the near future.
Participating in the debate on The Aadhaar and other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in Lok Sabha, Pinaki Misra said the government will keep tinkering with the law till it crystalises.
Describing it as "good" law, the BJD member said concerns of several members that privacy can be breached are not unfounded.
He called for bringing a data protection law simultaneously, alleging that a neighbouring country is constantly looking for data to benefit its interests.
He claimed that the RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch has written to the prime minister, flagging the issue of alleged access to private data by a Chinese firm which has stakes in social networking platforms Tik Tok and Hello.
The BJD member told the treasury benches that the use of data by such firms may snowball into a major problem in the near future.
He said a data protection law, thus, was essential.
He said there is a need to protect data from "egregious agencies".