Friday, November 20, 2009

Secrecy fears over India's epic ID project (and they are not talkinga about it)

MUMBAI - As India embarks on the largest citizen identity project in history, the high-profile agency implementing it was left red-faced after its confidential working paper was leaked onto the Internet.

Titled "Creating a Unique Identity Number for Every Resident in India", the leaked document reveals in-depth details about the government project to reach 1.03 billion citizens - an undertaking on a scale never tried before in the world.

The unique identity document (UID) number, stored and verifiable online from a central database, can be used for a lifetime - for passports, bank accounts, social welfare programs, phone services to airport check-ins. The ID number would be verified with individual biometrics such as fingerprints and iris scans.

But as with centralized citizen ID programs in other countries, critics fear the US$4 billion project threatens privacy, as well as being vulnerable to hackers, crooks and governmental misuse. They call the leaked document a sign of security risks to come.

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