New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity for opening bank accounts and procuring mobile phone.The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed by a voice vote after Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad assured the House that Aadhaar is voluntary and informed consent of the biometric identity holder has to be obtained before it is used. “The amendments address the privacy and security concerns. It provides that no service or benefit of any scheme will be denied for lack of Aadhaar,” Prasad said. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!The amended bill also provides for a stiff Rs 1 crore penalty and a jail term for private entities for storing Aadhaar data. “As many as 123 crore people are currently using Aadhaar… All safeguards are in place to prohibit misuse of Aadhaar biometrics. Iris and finger print data is stored in Indian machinery and it is safe and secure,” Prasad said. Displaying his personal Aadhaar card in the House, the Minister said the card only discloses his name, father’s name, date of birth, residential address and does not give out any information on medical records or details of caste, religion and community. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killedHe said Aadhaar data can only be shared when there is a threat to national security or there is Court order. “Even if I, as an, Information Technology Minister, seek Aadhaar data, I will be subject to 3 years of punishment,” Prasad said. He said the government has saved Rs 1.41 lakh crore due to Aadhaar and removed 4.23 crore and 2.98 crore bogus LPG connection and ration cards respectively. Prasad said the Bill is a wholesome amendment following the Supreme Court order. “Since crores of poor people are benefiting by using Aadhaar, hence in emergency we brought the Ordinance,” he said. The Minister further said the Government would soon bring a data protection legislation in the House as it believes that India’s data sovereignty has to be respected and the country should have a data analytics centre. “The data protection law is work in progress. We have the Justice Srikrishna Committee report. Some more inter- ministerial consultation is going on,” Prasad said. Justice Srikrishna panel had submitted its report in July 2018. The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on June 24, and once passed by the Rajya Sabha will replace an Ordinance issued in March 2019. The amendments provide for use of Aadhaar number for KYC authentication on voluntary basis under the Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. Put simply, this means it will allow voluntary use of Aadhaar number for authentication and identity proof in opening bank accounts and procuring mobile phone connections. It also gives option to children to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age, while stipulating stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy. Participating in the debate on the bill, Ritesh Pandey (BSP) said there is a need to improve it.