Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday said he is personally not in favour of linking Aadhaar card with electoral photo identity cards (EPIC) of voters as the two serve different purposes.
“I’m not saying this as an IT minister. If you ask me, my personal opinion is Aadhaar should not be linked with voter ID card,” Prasad said at an interactive session — Bengaluru IT Global: Road Ahead — with IT professionals.
Replying to a query on why the Centre was not planning to link Aadhaar with voter IDs, the minister said the government was not willing to face the accusation of spying on the people. “If we do this, our detractors will say (PM Narendra) Modi is snooping on us to know what we eat, which movie we are watching and so on and so forth. I don’t want that to happen,” he said.
“The EPIC card has been linked with the web portal of the Election Commission of India and you will get election-related information such as your polling booth and its address. Aadhaar is not related to this,” he said.
Having said that, the minister strongly defended the linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts, saying it will bring in transparency in reaching the benefits of welfare schemes through direct benefit transfer (DBT).
‘Modi’s Aadhaar is backed by law, ensures security’
There is a clear difference between the Aadhaar of Modi and the Aadhaar of Manmohan Singh. Manmohan Singh’s Aadhaar had no support of law; Modi’s Aadhaar is completely backed by law, and security and privacy are completely ensured,” Prasad said.
He sought to highlight that over 80 crore cellphoneshave been linked tobank accounts as part of theCentre’s JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and mobile numbers) trinity. He said over 31crore Jan Dhan accounts have been opened and over 120 crore mobileshave been linked toAadhar.
“Once former PM Rajiv Gandhi had said that of the one rupee spent by the government for welfare of the downtrodden, only 15 paise reach the needy. Now, if the government sends Rs1,000, it directly gets deposited in the bank account of the beneficiary,” Prasad added.
Defending the need of the unique identification number, he said Aadhaar is the digital identity that supplements the physical identity of people. “If you want to travel by train, you have to buy ticket online for which you have to give data. If you don’t want to give data, then take a bicycle. If you want to eat at a restaurant, you will get an electronically-generated invoice and people will know what you have eaten. But the government respects privacy and the data is secure,” he said.
Amid controversies surrounding Cambridge Analytica and Facebook misusing data for political purposes, the IT minister said the government will not tolerateillegal use of data for abuse.