The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Thursday proposed rules to enable Aadhar authentication by entities other than government ministries and departments. The ministry has invited feedback on amendments from stakeholders across the industry.

The government says that the move is part of its commitment to make Aadhaar people-friendly and enable ease of living and better access to services for citizens.

Through an amendment enacted in 2019 to the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016; entities were allowed to perform authentication if the unique identification authority of India (UIDAI) is satisfied with their compliance with regard to standards of privacy and security specified by regulations and is either permitted by law to offer authentication services or seeks authentication for a prescribed purpose.

Currently, government ministries and departments are allowed to undertake Aadhaar authentication under the Aadhaar Authentication for Good Governance (Social Welfare, Innovation, Knowledge) Rules, 2020 in the interest of good governance, preventing leakage of public funds and enablement of innovation and the spread of knowledge.

The purposes for Aadhaar authentication, as set by the government include the promotion of ease of living and enabling better access to services, or usage of digital platforms to ensure good governance, or preventing dissipation of social welfare benefits, or enabling innovation and spread of knowledge. According to the recent proposal by the government, any private entity that desires to use Aadhaar authentication shall prepare a proposal giving a justification as to how the authentication sought is for one of the said purposes and in the interest of the state and submit the same to the concerned ministry or department of the Central Government. The central government will then send the proposal to UIDAI. 

"If the Ministry/Department is of the opinion that the proposal submitted fulfils such a purpose and is in the interest of the State, it will forward the proposal along with its recommendation to MeitY," the ministry said.

Last month, in a bid to promote Aadhaar authentication, the UIDAI decided to allow residents to update documents in their Aadhaar online free of cost for the next three months. The free service is being made available from March 15 to June 14, 2023.

The ministry also said in February this year Aadhaar authentication transactions jumped over 13% to cross 226 crore. According to UIDAI, over 10.97 million mobile numbers were seeded in Aadhaar following requests from residents in the month of February 2023, thus registering a jump of more than 93% over the previous month.

The UIDAI has been encouraging residents to link their Aadhaar with mobile numbers for better and more effective communication while availing welfare services and accessing a multitude of voluntary services. 

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