Will Aadhaar Amendment Bill protect Fintech Companies?

Supreme Court banned private companies from availing Aadhaar data in September 2018. However, there has been no intimation issued to any private companies to delete their Aadhaar info.

The verdict also prevents the entities from ‘core biometric info storage’ as well as the Aadhaar number. However, this looks tough because online authentication needs either an OTP or biometric data, and offline verification involves collecting a xerox copy of Aadhaar card.

The Centre is trying to permit Fintech firms to reaccess Aadhaar. This time, they do not attempt to amend the Aadhaar Act, but by utilising two other legal provisions. One is the Indian Telegraph Act, and the other is the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

This step by the government is contradictory to the Supreme Court ruling on 26 Sept, where they said that only benefits, reimbursements, grants and services and PAN Number could be seeded for Income Tax Returns filing.

The recommendations support three methods to establish a user’s identity – Passport, Aadhaar and any other national ID card.

The last option may not be feasible at all times depending on which documents will be notified as per amended Section 11A. So until then, a passport is the only non-Aadhaar document available and very few citizens hold passports.

Both the amendments clarify that Aadhaar submission is purely voluntary. However, for amending PMLA, the Centre can enable any private requesting firm (not banking firms) to verify using Aadhaar as long as the company fulfils with the privacy and security rules as per the Aadhaar Act.

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