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India allays privacy fears as bill to link Aadhaar with voter IDs passed by parliament

There will be no interference with or access to citizens’ data either by government authorities or any third parties when the Aadhaar biometric ID is linked with voter ID, India’s Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju has told parliamentarians.

The link is to function as a deduplication tool and Aadhaar is not acting as a proof of citizenship.

As reports Medianama, the minister’s remarks come as part of the defense posed by New Delhi to parry away criticisms that the move to link Aadhaar with voter IDs will compromise personal data and undermine the integrity of the electoral process. The bill had earlier been okayed by the Union Cabinet.

Addressing members of parliament of the Lower House of Parliament recently, the Law Minister said the changes to Section 23 of the electoral law, the Representation of the People Act, does not in any way mean that Aadhaar will be used as proof of citizenship, according to Medianama.

Apart from linking Aadhaar to voter ID, other amendments made to the section of the bill state that Aadhaar may also be required from those already registered on the voter roll, that Aadhaar details will have to be furnished to authorities before a particular date, that names will not be deleted if Aadhaar details are not provided, that certain statutes have been made gender-neutral, and that the requisitioning of premises can be used for purposes other than just polling stations or ballot materials warehouses.

Despite assurances by government, opposition to the bill remains. Medianama highlights reasons put forth by some lawmakers including suggestions that the amendment to the Act touches on the independence of the constitutional process, that Aadhaar is susceptible to errors, and that the changes could tamper with the principle of secrecy in elections.

Aadhaar not obligatory to access COVID vaccine portal

One of nine ID documents used by Indian citizens to access the CoWIN portal for COVID vaccination is compulsory but Aadhaar is not among them, a panel of Supreme Court Judges was told recently, writes Mint.

This came after a suit was filed to the court claiming that Aadhaar details were being demanded on the CoWIN portal to verify the identity of those seeking to take a COVID vaccine. The Supreme Court had last October issued a notice to the central government and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on the matter.

The central government has clarified that the lack of the Aadhaar is not a barrier for vaccination as those without the ID have been able to have jabs.

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