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No deal with any US MNC for linking Aadhaar, says Prasad

No deal with any US MNC for linking Aadhaar, says Prasad
Clearing the air on rumours about Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has entered into an agreement with an American multinational company for Aadhaar, Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that no such decision has been taken by the government.

“The UIDAI has not entered into any agreement with any American multinational company linking up a video- and voice-enabled call application with Aadhaar,” Prasad said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha on Friday. In reply to another question, Prasad told the Upper House that biometric data of about 99 crore Indians have been collected so far under Aadhaar scheme and the data is encrypted and its secrecy and security ensured. Prasad also set aside fears of members on the data collected under Aadhaar and said it is sorted within the country at data centres in Bangalore and Manesar and no foreign agency is involved in data collection. “Today we have got 99 crore Indians on Aadhaar. In case of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme, Rs 15,000 crore was saved and in case of PDS, Rs 2,346 crore was saved in four states. As far as privacy part is concerned, I want to assure this House that under the architecture which was started by your government, all the care has been taken to ensure its privacy,” he said during Question Hour.

In contrary to Prasad’s statement, technology giant Microsoft had in February said that it had been working on a pilot to link Skype with the Aadhaar database to explore if the identification service can be used on video calls, including those with government institutions.

The US-based software giant has said it’s very enthusiastic and has “embraced the universal ID system”. “We have been pursuing work, initially on a pilot basis, but it will continue to grow, to use that specific technology and integrate it into Skype,” Microsoft president and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith had said. Smith had said this will enable people to testify in court proceedings or get a licence they need. Citing an example, Smith had said he expects Skype to evolve in a way that will enable somebody at home to authenticate themselves using the ID system with a fingerprint or an iris scan. “(The person can) then communicate with someone on the other end, who might for example, work for a government agency and the government agency will know that person is who he or she says they are,” he had said.
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