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Biometric IDs For Every Indian Citizen

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the one-card-to-rule-them dept.

Privacy 166

wiedzmin writes "This month, officials from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), armed with fingerprinting machines, iris scanners and cameras hooked to laptops, will fan out across the towns and villages of southern Andhra Pradesh state in the first phase of the project whose aim is to give every Indian a lifelong Unique ID (UID) number for 'anytime, anywhere' biometric authentication. While enrolling with the UIDAI may be voluntary, other agencies and service providers might require a UID number in order to transact business. Usha Ramanathan, a prominent legal expert who is attached to the Center for the Study of Developing Societies in the national capital, said that, 'taken to its logical limit, the UID project will make it impossible, in a couple of years, for an ordinary citizen to undertake a simple task such as traveling within the country without a UID number.' Next step, tying that UID number and biometric information to to their RIM BlackBerry PIN number."

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Social security number (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516266)

That's what it basically is in other countries. What is the news here? That India only started the practice now?

Re:Social security number (4, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516280)

The difference seems to be that this number is tied to a fingerprint, iris scan, and facial photograph. That's a lot scarier than my social security number currently is.

Re:Social security number (2, Informative)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516330)

The difference seems to be that this number is tied to a fingerprint, iris scan, and facial photograph. That's a lot scarier than my social security number currently is.

A) Not trolling. Mods, get your shit together. This [slashdot.org] is trolling (NSFW).

B) Reply is correct in that, yes, a difference exist; the country is requiring biometric information for unique identification. Although some could argue picture, birth cert. etc for a SSN card are similar, this is one step further. The summary (FTA) makes the point that if this UID become a ubiquitous requirement, well, your biometric identity will be stored by the government. This could be a good thing. It could be bad. Who knows. I do know that I do now trust American authorities with my biometric identity; we all know how tight their data retention and security policies are.

With that said, coming to a country near you. Minority Report!

Re:Social security number (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516524)

Mods, get your shit together.

This looks like an innocent fuck up. Mods are human and the occasional human might be distracted by chaos in the world, relationship problems, and a quart of tequila. So say sweet dreams to this fellow now resting an unconscious head on a keyboard collecting drool.

Re:Social security number (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516600)

I post to undo my bad mods (and even sacrifice my 14 points already-used). Just sayin'.

Re:Social security number (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517792)

Actually, before Slashdot going Ajax, a moderation would only happen after you pressed the moderate button. That way, if you happened to mis-click on moderation, you could immediately correct it. Nowadays your moderation goes life immediately. No chance to correct your mistake (except for the "nuclear" post-to-undo option).

Re:Social security number (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516470)

Except in India I doubt they could get a SSN system to work- with biometric identification no one needs to memorize numbers or keep them written down somewhere (or be able to write for that matter). You also have an easier time being sure someone is who they say they are (compared to how a lot of places in America take mother's maiden name plus SSN, which nowhere near secure or reliable). Yes, there are a lot of bad things that can be tied to such a biometric system, but having a functioning equivalent to a SSN system would be a big enough benefit it is misguided at best to blindly reject this system.

Keep in mind, this system in itself isn't necessarily evil, but it allows a lot of bad stuff to be implemented. You can have this system yet block any government encroachment on privacy (or repeal the privacy problems after it after it becomes a hot-button issue). However unlikely that separation may be, you have to consider that chance compared to the chance of getting a less-intrusive system to work at a similar level of reliability. There may be some such system (and I welcome it), but some people will come up with some wild idea and never put it in perspective.

the mythbusters pointed out how easy finger prints (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516564)

the mythbusters pointed out how easy finger prints are easy to fake.

Re:the mythbusters pointed out how easy finger pri (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516698)

Was the fingerprint faked to a dumb machine, or to a machine supervised by a person? Of course India may just use the dumb machine variant, but if not I expect it would be far more difficult to keep your antics from being noticed. Keep in mind the article also mentions an iris scanner, although I don't know how the security of that compares to a fingerprint.

Yes, there is always bribery, but this system may be more secure than others on that aspect, as you may still need that faked fingerprint (as opposed to the corrupt worker just looking up the victim's SSN).

Re:Social security number (3, Interesting)

painehope (580569) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516784)

At least this is happening in India, not in a country that actually matters globally. I feel sorry for the poor bastards that have to deal with it, but if they're not willing to fight for their freedom, then this is what they'll get. At least in the U.S. we've had our experience with SSNs and the more intelligent members of our population (the ones that aren't out to dominate others - that caveat has to be added, since there's plenty of intelligent people who have no respect for freedom, responsibility, or accountability) should, mostly, be able to understand why a program like this is a very, very bad idea for those of us who value our freedom. SSNs are bad enough as-is - a government program that has become a tool of the private business sector as well, tracking every significant purchase or decision a man makes in his life. I'll undoubtedly be haunted the rest of my life by the problems I had when I was married, despite the fact that I made the best decisions that I could at the time (some of which were forced by the economy, some by personal circumstances, some by business matters gone awry)..

Actually, what bothers me the most about identification systems like this is the invasion of one's privacy. You will never have a chance to start over after losing everything, any person at all may be tracked by government agencies much easier, et al. It makes evil deeds on the behalf of so-called "authorities" (be they governing bodies, businesses, credit tracking agencies, or what-have-you) much easier to accomplish, while offering nothing in return to the citizens subjected to such measures.

Re:Social security number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33517134)

Quote from a person who doesn't matter... LOL.. poor..

Re:Social security number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33517758)

And Mr.painehope matters as much as a sewer rat in the gutters of Bangalore.

Re:Social security number (-1, Flamebait)

arivanov (12034) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517850)

What's so scary about that?

Example: I have both UK and Bulgarian citizenship. Bulgaria has had:

1. Unique ID and national ID register - more than 40 years now
2. Biometric passports with fingerprints - a few years now (mine should become biometric on next renewal)
3. Digital ID, publicaly accessible over the Internet national digital ID register in a LDAP format, smartcard generated cryptographic signatures as a valid means to sign a contract and valid authentication for services (both gov and private)
4. Fines down to a mere parking ticket paid through the tax register and a mandatory tax-clean status to be able to sell anything that requires a formal contract. You do not pay your parking ticket, well tough it shows up when you try to sell your house or your car and you cannot do it.
5. You can have your ID or passport pulled out of the database and reissued in as little as a day (if you pay) in most of the bigger city police offices.
6 and so on and so forth

Basically BG is classic "database nation" in the way UK and USA geeks keep scaremongering about. And you know what - my privacy there is infringed LESS than in the UK or USA. Much LESS.

Also, it is India we are talking about. Does anyone around here believe that a database of this size written in India will work? I do not. I know quite a few people in Eastern Europe who make a great living by picking up outsourcing projects which are supposedly being done by 2000 FTEs in India, doing them with 20 people and giving them back to the Indians so they present them as "their work". Everyone is happy - the outsourcer can happily do a Satyam and does not even need to falsify the books, the Eastern Europeans get a pay for the service that exceeds a UK/US salary and the clueless person who outsourced it in the first place thinks that he is getting value for the money.

Re:Social security number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33517916)

Does anyone around here believe that a database of this size written in India will work? I do not.

You clueless bastard, have you heard about the Indian railways reservation system (which is the fuckin' second largest railway network in the world, and the biggest employer, for your information). And motherfucker, how about the Indian Income tax department's PAN database? India has more and better quality stuff than all your bloody good-for-nothing godforsaken insignificant East European nations put together, fuckin' commie bastard.

Re:Social security number (1, Informative)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517946)

Basically BG is classic "database nation" in the way UK and USA geeks keep scaremongering about. And you know what - my privacy there is infringed LESS than in the UK or USA. Much LESS.

yeah, all this scaremongering is silly. All it needs is proper implementation and security.

Also, it is India we are talking about. Does anyone around here believe that a database of this size written in India will work?

If you take your head outta your ass you'll see that most large databases in the world today, are indeed implemented by Indians. You see larger number of crap Indian techies because there are soooo many Indian techies in total.

Not really (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518354)

Insofar that you cannot go back to the iris scan, finger print or facial photograph from the number, it is about as relevant as social sec number. Roughly said, a MD5 of a photograph of you to uniquely identify you, is not a privacy scarifying act , more than having *ANY* personally unique identifier. It would be scary only if the amount of info in that number is enough to reverse engineer any of the associated biometrics. It does not seem to be the case.

Re:Social security number (3, Informative)

bsharp8256 (1372285) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516298)

Having a Social Security number doesn't prevent me from traveling anywhere within the United States, and it isn't tied to my phone number. I can also buy things without giving that number to the clerk, things the TFS hints at in the future.

Re:Social security number (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516310)

But there are still enough things that depend on the SS number, and those things are the real reason SS isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Re:Social security number (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516344)

Such as? Other than getting a job and getting into college, there isn't too much that need your SSN, and those that do, really -don't- need it.

Re:Social security number (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516622)

Exactly. The places that "need" it tend to use it as an easy, unique ID number that everyone already has memorized. For example, colleges use it so you can get help to get a new ID card without memorizing your ID number. Why memorize 12 different numbers for different places (which may change frequently), instead of just the single SSN?

In database terms... (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516768)

In database terms, perhaps a lot of places are being lazy enough to not set up a better primary key?

Re:Social security number (2, Informative)

painehope (580569) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516920)

Try dealing with insurance companies, buying a house, even getting a simple loan on a used car that you'll pay off in 6 months. Things like that are interconnected due to your SSN being used to track you and your "credit score" (an arbitrary number that isn't affected much by any good credit actions, or payment of past debts, but is heavily penalized for the slightest failure to pay anything; I've literally had a home loan turned down because I didn't pay off the last 5 dollars on a loan for a laptop due to a billing error). While this state of affairs may or may not be the desired result of the decision to assign SSNs to citizens, it still causes more harm than good. Anyone who gets ahold of your SSN can damage you in many ways. For example, I recently went to the ER at my local hospital. I got into an argument with the head nurse about whether or not I could go outside and smoke a cigarette and wait for the pain medication to take effect before they (with my assistance, since I don't permit anyone to work on an injury that I can do myself) cleaned and dressed the gunshot wound. So instead of getting treatment, I was told that I was "discharged" upon my return from my cigarette break.

And yet they'll be hounding me for money for services rendered, despite the fact that they did nothing except look at the wound, go "yep, you've been shot, the bullet exited your body, we need to give you some pain medicine and dress that wound" (since I'd already stopped the bleeding and all that before I got to the ER). They'll try to bill my insurance company and try to bill me, despite the fact that they did nothing other than provide me with a room for an hour. If they didn't have my SSN, they would have a much harder time doing that, since my name is relatively common, I didn't give them my correct address, and I can tell my insurance company to deny the claim.

Re:Social security number (1)

unwastaken (1586569) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517688)

It's not tied to your phone number, unless you signed a cell phone contract. Then they probably asked you for it.

Given, YOU may not have signed a cell phone contract, but a majority of people have these days.

Re:Social security number (4, Interesting)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516588)

Not in Canada, there's strict laws about who can ask for a SIN (our SSN). Basically, only your employer and the tax man, as it's only used for tax purposes. I couldn't even tell you what mine is, because I don't carry the card for it, and nobody ever asks for it.

Re:Social security number (1)

ImNotAtWork (1375933) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517150)

Forgive my ignorance but how do they do a credit check on you for a loan? Just name, employer and address?

Re:Social security number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33517760)

Well, in India, the equivalent to your "SIN" is "PAN" : permanent account number.
Used to track financial transactions and for taxation purposes.

Re:Social security number (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518484)

I think the idea is the same in the US, but it simply got used by everyone as an easy UID anyway.

Should I quote from the book of Revelations? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516288)

Or would that be redundant?

Re:Should I quote from the book of Revelations? (4, Informative)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516354)

I'll do it for you, its a great karma whoring setup (and might get *real* karma for posting from King James, who knows):

And [the Antichrist] causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

And that no man might buy or sell, save [except] he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. Rev 13:16-18 KJV

Re:Should I quote from the book of Revelations? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516836)

And this "Beast"; would that be a computer system, or the government? Either way, the system grows without care or remorse. Sounds like the perfect antichrist in the true sense of the word. Anti-Christian morals/values indeed.

Re:Should I quote from the book of Revelations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33517046)

Well I'm glad somebody got the Karma points.

Good show.

Re:Should I quote from the book of Revelations? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518160)

Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

I lived alone... My mind was blank...

Re:Should I quote from the book of Revelations? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516368)

So India is home to the "best and brightest" huh? This proves the country is populated by idiots and mindless drones willing to voluntarily enslave themselves to the government masters. May a thousand plagues beseige you.

Re:Should I quote from the book of Revelations? (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516514)

Reminds me of the plot of "On Wings of Eagles." EDS was implementing a national ID card system which went beyong the population's threshold. I sure hope we do not see a similar outcome in this case.

Re:Should I quote from the book of Revelations? (2, Interesting)

Enigmafan (263737) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517708)

So India is home to the "best and brightest" huh? This proves the country is populated by idiots and mindless drones willing to voluntarily enslave themselves to the government masters. May a thousand plagues beseige you.

Why? It is voluntary. What happens if only 1% of the Indian people actually allow themselves to be scanned? That would be a powerful signal to the governemnet that people don't want this system.

On file (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516290)

Teller: Hmm. We don't seem to have your retina scan, your fingerprint or your colonic map on file. Fry: What about my ATM card?

Wow glad America doesn't do business with India (3, Funny)

HockeyGuy (1864828) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516308)

thats really special they want to Biometric id a billion people Im sure that won't be used in anyway to reflect the cast system in india.... you know like those people with pay as you go instead of iPhones. Im so glad America doesn't do any business in India can you imagine what would happen if they had access to all of our personal information?

Re:Wow glad America doesn't do business with India (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33517272)

Im so glad America doesn't do any business in India

Are you fuckin' blind? Or are you a plain moron? Looks like the latter. Were you born a moron or did it take a lot of effort to become one?

Re:Wow glad America doesn't do business with India (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33517724)

sarcasm

Shadowrun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516362)

Eerily reminds me of Shadowrun's SIN [shadowrun4.com] .

Numbers (1)

kinabrew (1053930) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516372)

It's interesting that people automatically seem to think of numbers when thinking of unique IDs, like phone numbers or government IDs.

Why?

It would make more sense to just use email addresses. In the same way that it makes sense to use sentences for passwords, it makes more sense for unique IDs to be based on something significantly more diverse and difficult to guess than a meaningless string of numbers.

IDs should be determinable by the person who's going to be affected by them, and in the rare case of duplicates, they should be asked to choose another. There's no reason why everyone needs a "number".

Re:Numbers (4, Funny)

nion (19898) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516428)

Do you REALLY want to be tied to xXxcockxhungryxXx@aol.com for the rest of your life?

Re:Numbers (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518178)

Why should ID numbers be difficult to guess? They are the identification/user name part of authorisation, so they should be as simple and easy to remember/use as possible.

Dont know why you tied this to the blackberry (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516386)

The original intent of this ID is create something akin to the social security number in the US.

I'll tell you two important reasons for this
1. Make resource allocation more efficient.
      For example, there is a concept of basic items like rice, wheat etc... being sold subsidized to poor people.
      That mechanism is very inefficient and red tape laden presently.The ID is supposed to streamline it .

2. Currently there is no concept credit history in India other than a credit card.
        There is no way a dealer would sell you a TV on credit unless you bring somebody known the dealer along with you.

Imagine US without SSN. That is what it is now in India. very inefficient.

Re:Dont know why you tied this to the blackberry (3, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516512)

Yeah, the credit fueled binge and bust worked out real well in the US ...

Re:Dont know why you tied this to the blackberry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516692)

yo - you guys have always believed in greedy stuff. Remember - you still consume 140 times what an average earth inhabitant consumes every year.

Re:Dont know why you tied this to the blackberry (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516816)

He probably earns 140 times the relative income of the average human. Local industry does play a big part in consumerism but it isn't that large. Wealthy people everywhere indulge.

Re:Dont know why you tied this to the blackberry (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518056)

"Earn" has classically been the most abused verb in the West.

"Steal" has taken close second place, especially since the recent invention of "intellectual property".

Over the past decade, "terrorize" has been creeping to third place.

Re:Dont know why you tied this to the blackberry (2, Interesting)

computrius (1153141) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517090)

1) What is more efficient than just giving the damned rice to the people who need it, no questions asked? 2) You act like the concept of a credit history is a GOOD thing. All credit does is open the door for you to be screwed by a bank. All while probably inflating prices because no-one has to have the cash to buy anything where otherwise items would have to be priced to what people could afford or they wouldnt sell (ex. Cars, Houses, etc.). Do you really thing $100,000 would be the cost of a relatively low end home if there were no loans? It has its good points, but it is way too abused and they are far outweighed by the bad ones.

Re:Dont know why you tied this to the blackberry (3, Insightful)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517444)

The original intent of this ID is create something akin to the social security number in the US.

I'll tell you two important reasons for this
1. Make resource allocation more efficient.
            For example, there is a concept of basic items like rice, wheat etc... being sold subsidized to poor people.
            That mechanism is very inefficient and red tape laden presently.The ID is supposed to streamline it .

2. Currently there is no concept credit history in India other than a credit card.
                There is no way a dealer would sell you a TV on credit unless you bring somebody known the dealer along with you.

Imagine US without SSN. That is what it is now in India. very inefficient.

My goodness -- it'd be like ... Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and all those other countries that don't use a social security identifier as a de facto single compulsory ID for everything else in your life apart from just social security. How horrifying!

In a related topic, the UK's proposed national ID has been scrapped even before it has become compulsory, with the government scrapping it saying they want 'to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion.' When you've got a government saying that national IDs are a substantial erosion of civil liberties, it's worth listening to

Of the two "important reasons" for an SSN you mention, neither is valid.

The first does not require your social security number to be used by anyone other than (shock) social security themselves. It doesn't even need to be a universal number across both tax and benefits (and given that tax law and benefits law might sometimes consider income differently, or in ways that are open to case-law interpretation, it seems like a good idea not to link the databases too closely). In India, one of the controversial aspects of the biometric ID is that it will include your caste -- seemingly inviting caste-based discrimination. Again, a case where there's an advantage to deciding not to keep information on file.

The second doesn't require a social security number at all. Australia, Britain, and many other countries have reasonable credit history checking methods that do not require revealing your tax, social services, or other government identifiers.

I suspect India is actually more interested in the biometrics than in the individual ID. The problem they face is that they have a very large rural population who don't interact with official government documentation very often -- and do not have birth certificates, driving licenses, passports, and other documents that are used as proof of identity in more urban/developed countries. A biometric ID would give them one, and one that doesn't matter if the ID card itself gets lost on the farm.

Re:Dont know why you tied this to the blackberry (2, Insightful)

hawkingradiation (1526209) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517586)

This is also why a UID is scary. Imagine a future when resources are scarcer such as in a war. An identity like this would be used to ration goods. That is the positive side when money doesn't mean anything. But there could also be potential drawbacks in the same situation, and huge ones. Suppose someone somewhere doesn't like you and they have access to *deny* you goods and services and this is possible that it could be a large overbearing institution like the government or a large corporation. Right now we can get away from this because we use money, and everybody wants more of it so it is unlikely that someone will refuse a service because they can gain financially from it. So no problem if you can get some money then you can live comfortably. But if the value of money is scarce such as with hyperinflation (tick,tick,tick...) people without a uid could be refused service. Simply because a computer database has determined that they: used up their allotment, or they are on some sort of watch list, and all of these conditions must be met before they receive any goods. People without the id could not be issued service from the entity because they are not in the database: The problem exist when the database owner/maintainer relates to the entity that is giving out the service and not an abstraction like money. Kinda reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode where a guy is punished for a crime and then has a mark put on his forehead. He is then an outcast of society and nobody can even speak to him because there are drones monitoring everything. He goes to the hospital and then a nurse asks him to remove his hat. Only if he doesn't have the mark will he be allowed service. He shows his mark and he is turned away.The uid is the same thing as the "mark" but in this fictional case it is measured by presence of it and not the absence. i.e. the absence is also a mark. One wonders how in the future one could survive without the uid...without the help of society and the burdens.

Troll article (1, Insightful)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516410)

What exactly is wrong with having a Unique ID number? The main purpose is to streamline things. Instead of having one 'PAN Card', one 'Voter ID Card' and a dozen other cards like we do now, this will substitute all of them. And what's this nonsense about privacy? People should not write articles without first researching the safeguards built into the system, and believe me - there are a LOT of them. Maybe you ought to think a bit harder about the positive implications of this such as crime prevention, speedy resolution of land disputes, etc. etc. etc.

Re:Troll article (0, Flamebait)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516440)

And it's a piece of mischief by the poster to talk about RIM and this UID project in the same breath. Get your act together /.

Re:Troll article (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516502)

Yeah, "crime prevention" more like dissident prevention. Lets see here, everything is tied into a single database which ties in voting, economics, etc. tied into a fingerprint database. A few forged prints here and there and you have a rock solid case to charge any dissident.

Re:Troll article (4, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516664)

You seem to have a lot of faith in government (or in your government).

The reason Slashdotters (and others) are skeptical of government power is that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

FYI, India is at 74 on the corruption index [livemint.com] .

By the way, an ad that pops up when searching for india corruption index is: http://indiaunheard.videovolunteers.org/?s=corruption&x=0&y=0&gclid=CLm1qair-aMCFQtN5wod2T5cGw [videovolunteers.org] , which details a lot of corruption. The more tools you give government, the more harm they can do.

It's naive to think that government officials won't use the awesome amount of cross-linked information for their own purposes.

Also, you must likely not be a member of any kind of minority or repressed group (there are such in every country).

Re:Troll article (1)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516790)

India (and I suppose all countries in the world, including the US ), have databases where vehicle registration details are stored, so that a vehicle owner can be traced based on his vehicle registrsation number. So, just because the Indian bureaucracy is corrupt, do we do away with vehicle registration numbers?

Re:Troll article (2, Interesting)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517388)

The reason Slashdotters (and others) are skeptical of government power is that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Now I do agree with you. I would not like to see this much information so easily collated in the hands of administrative authorities and I would add that it's not only governments, but also powerful private interests which would value access to such information about individuals. However, mindlessly repeating glib cliches is a poor way of demonstrating scepticism.

Does absolute power really corrupt absolutely? I sincerely doubt it. Is there even anything approaching a (negative) correlation between some index of government power and the corruption index you cite? China which is marginally less corrupt on that index appears to have far more authoritarian control, the bottom position is shared between Myanmar where the state rules with an iron fist and Somalia which has seen a complete collapse of state power, while Germany, which for decades has required citizens to carry an identification pass bearing a unique number ID is among the least corrupt.

Re:Troll article (1)

duggi (1114563) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518042)

Actually we have a lot of faith in our corruption. Look, its not that I just know that somebody is corrupt, it is also that I know how to use it.
In a previous attempt, this same exercise created many dupes and gave birth to many non existing people. I am talking about iris scanners here, and the officials themselves, top civil servants can be trusted. It is not a bad database design too, remember, we create most of the designs for your systems. It was later found out that a political party created these, and the method was by bribing some of the data collectors.

Every system is corrupt, even this one. If your authorities want to screw you, trust me, they don't need this. This is only for the better.

Re:Troll article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33518046)

Not to mention that all of this biometric stuff will no doubt be run on Windows machines that aren't patched, connected to virii infested networks with lots of malware and spam and thus leaking all of this "secure" data way out in the clear.

Re:Troll article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33518122)

You are no doubt an asshole, who thinks that everyone in the world would design software just like you would.

Re:Troll article (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516670)

Indeed there's times & places where it's important to be sure who you are dealing with (for example when opening a bank account, or do a driver's exam), and having a unique ID for that purpose is okay IMO. What's wrong is using such unique ID anywhere & everywhere just because it's convenient, and store loads of info coupled to that single ID that isn't absolutely necessary for its purpose. Train company shouldn't need to know who's on the train & exactly what route someone is traveling, just that passenger has paid his/her ticket. Keeping more personally identifiable info than that around, is the same as poking around in people's private lives where you have no business poking around. Which is even worse when governments are doing it... Also love this quote:

"For the poor this is a huge benefit because they have no identities, no birth certificates, degree certificates, driver's licences, passports or even addresses."

If I were one of those poor, I'd be deeply offended by silly statement like that. All people on this planet have identities (as in: unique person unlike any other), place/date where they were born & address / area where they live. The only thing you're talking about here, are pieces of dead tree that state one thing or the other (true or otherwise).

Re:Troll article (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516740)

Trains in India [youtube.com] and attempting to validate everyone's ID? Good luck with that!

Actually, when we book a ticket online, and take the printed ticket on a train, we have to carry some ID to ensure that the person who's travelling is the same that the ticket was booked for. This is basically to prevent people from booking in bulk in advance and then reselling the tickets. Usually, it's just any photo-ID, and the conductor glances at it and at your face, and moves onto the next passenger. If the ticket is for multiple people, any one person having the ID is usually enough.

Re:Troll article (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517244)

Maybe you ought to think a bit harder about the positive implications of this such as crime prevention, speedy resolution of land disputes, etc. etc. etc.

Not to mention how it streamlines the often difficult task of identity theft.

Re:Troll article (0, Flamebait)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517302)

Yeah, just because the system could possibly be misused, we just forget about it and forsake all the immense advantages of the system. Instead of focusing on the technology being used, the implementation methodology, how secure the databases are going to be, how access will be limited to the system and how misuse will be tackled, let's just ban this whole system.

Re:Troll article (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517464)

... let's just ban this whole system.

I'm glad I've been able to persuade you. ;)

Seriously though, the fact that a very obvious, very profitable (meaning it will happen), and very serious (for the victims) misuse exists doesn't give you pause? No offence, but in weighing up the pros and cons, I don't feel you have been as diligent as you might have been.

Re:Troll article (1)

hawkingradiation (1526209) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518068)

"crime prevention": "I see you were about to commit a crime there Mr. Singh, may I have your unique id number so that I may arrest you as a preventative measure". I am not aware of the safeguards that have been put in place. Is it true that no one will have low level access to the database ala Plan 9? Will corruption be made more difficult, but more damaging if achieved? Can you help me answer these questions such as an official website that describes how it will be implemented. Just saying...

Re:Troll article (1)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518144)

Yes, those are very valid questions. What I know about this is through media reports and interviews. I will put together the information from official websites and submit the technical details as a story to slashdot and hopefully it gets published, and under 'technology' instead of 'your rights online'!

Mark of the Beast (0, Offtopic)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516444)

And people thought Revelations was silly.

Re:Mark of the Beast (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516764)

I once was talking about biometrics with a preacher whose PC I was installing. The whole bit where the guy had his entire life and house controlled by the RFID chip in his hand had folks talking, so I naturally assumed a preacher would think Revelations. "Nope, not worried about that in the least" When I asked him why he said "Do you really think a being THAT old, that originally stood at the side of God, would be THAT obvious? It is so much easier to do, and the public will NEVER catch on". When I asked him how he asked me to tell him my last three SS digits, which of course I could from memory. He then emphasized this passage "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads . He said we ALREADY had a mark, and all it would take is a national rationing system like in time of worldwide disaster to make it true. While I don't believe in religion, I have to admit I couldn't think of a comeback for that one.

As for TFA, in many ways I feel sorry for India. While we were able to gradually progress they are basically trying to jump from third to first world pretty much in super fast forward. The logistics of doing that and dealing with the unreal amount of info one has to collect to keep from having widespread fraud in the digital age is just insanity. While I can understand them wanting to take any shortcuts they can gvet, tying this much info without a hell of a firewall around it will come back to bite them in the ass if they aren't careful.

Re:Mark of the Beast (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516858)

If your Social Security Number is your "true name" then you told this preacher the most powerful part, quite casually.

The first three digits are location. Anyone doing a tiny bit of research can find that out about you, and the next two digits are "lot number." This can be guessed pretty accurately by knowing the time of birth. If you can bracket the birth date with others' whose lot numbers you know, you can determine it as well.

That leaves four digits to uniquely and "secretly" identify you. Of which you gave up three without any prodding....

Re:Mark of the Beast (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517856)

When I asked him how he asked me to tell him my last three SS digits, which of course I could from memory.

You should have made them up. "666" would have been a pretty interesting choice. :-)

Here we go... (1)

RealBigUns (1896868) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516464)

Biometrics are all fun and good until somebody loses a hand or an eye...(or they are stolen)

the financial otption (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516474)

Getting people biometrics is sure cheaper than teaching people how to read! Way to go, Indian government! Keep the people ignorant to save a few bucks.

Commonwealth Games (0)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516526)

Suspicious timing? I'm not saying it legitimises the action, but perhaps this is the government being proactive towards counter-terrorism in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games?

Duplicate names and birthday do not serve well as (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516530)

India has a much less uniform naming system, with a lot more duplicate birthdays + names, and much less variance in traits. How many Amrish Patels exist with the same name, color hair, color eyes, and same birthday in India?

My name is not too common, but still I have a duplicate in my home US state - same name and same birthday for two people. That's fine most of the time, but the other guy is a felon, and the state does not require SSN when you are arrested. Therefore, they cannot distinguish me from the felon. My insurance was cancelled retroactively for 1 month while I was out of town. (thanks to Choicepoint for incorrectly associated his name and criminal record with my insurance - you should opt out). My voter registration was cancelled since they do not use a common primary key for voters.

Therefore I prefer a real unique identifier that the state government would respect and correctly associate with me. Since the state uses drivers licenses as their primary key, and the feds use SSN as their primary key, I can have different identities in different states, and the cops may accuse me of being the escaped felon one day when I am innocent.

I don't like the idea of biometrics, but I also don't trust an inaccurate primary key as my identification. A name + birthday != unique.

The enforcement of privacy should be in the way they allow usage of the identity. Credit and Taxes perhaps are tier 2 concerns compared with entering and leaving the country.

Just a thought...

Re:Duplicate names and birthday do not serve well (4, Interesting)

oiron (697563) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516706)

Not to mention, names can change through a person's life, say by marriage, or by religious conversion. Or maybe simply because someone doesn't like their current name. Or because they're the-artist-formerly-and-now-currently-known-as-Prince.

In India, it becomes even more difficult - I see newspaper reports every day with people named as "A" alias "B"; not necessarily for illicit purposes, but just because they may be called differently by different people. Besides, I (for example) don't really have a "family name" - I have a given name and a couple of other identifiers. Even for those who do have "family" names, it's more of a "community" name. For example, the name "Singh" would indicate a North Indian, either a Sikh, or one of the many Hindu clans that use the name. It's not just likely that someone bearing the same first + last name would be pretty similar in physical characteristics, it would be almost a given.

Quite frankly, I'm glad we're finally getting this.

Re:Duplicate names and birthday do not serve well (1)

gblfxt (931709) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516982)

why is it the rest of the animal world has gotten by just fine without incessantly tracking each other? it seems monkeys, zebras, lions, etc. have gotten by for ages without know whats going on 2 neighborhoods down, but humans can't handle it?

Re:Duplicate names and birthday do not serve well (5, Funny)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517654)

As soon as the zebra's get together and hire machine gunners to defend their watering holes from lions, they're going to need some sort of way to determine that all the zebra's chipped in to pay for it.

Then again, they'll probably just use some sort of barcode scanner.

Re:Duplicate names and birthday do not serve well (1)

Pastis (145655) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517710)

Because you will now see UUIDs in newspapers ?

There are some good reasons to change name. (think witness protection program). Some are traceable, some are not. Depends on the intent.

But saying you want an ID isn't necessarily the same as saying you agree with biometrics. In France and in Norway, we have a unique social security number, but we don't use biometrics to define it.

Re:Duplicate names and birthday do not serve well (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516754)

India has a much less uniform naming system, with a lot more duplicate birthdays + names, and much less variance in traits. How many Amrish Patels exist with the same name, color hair, color eyes, and same birthday in India?

How many Amrish Patels exist with the same name, fathers name, mother name and birthdate? I am assuming not many.

PS: if you still believe many, add pincode (Indian equivalent of zipcode) to the list.

Re:Duplicate names and birthday do not serve well (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518278)

I can't understand how anyone who dislikes unique numbers assigned by government would even consider involving your mother's/father's name, your birthdate and place of living.
"name, fathers name, mother name and birthdate" = much, much bigger invasion of privacy than a unique ID number. If a document being processed by some official lists your name+birthdate, then it opens up issues for possible discrimination by age/sex/nationality - think officials processing permits looking if the guy has a muslim or hindu name, or age-screening of CVs by the birth-dates listed for identification.

Why should anyone care who your father is and even if you know his name? Why should your ID change when you move to a different state, a paternity suit decides that there is a different father, you change your name and recolor your hair?

Given an average Indian level of corruption, any objective systems of identification are far superior to subjective ones, where some random official can decide if you are or aren't person X based on some criteria. Your comment "I am assuming not many" is ridiculous - the only acceptable answer would be "I can personally guarantee that only 1 such person exists", otherwise it means that it's ok for one person to be held accountable for another persons debts or misdeeds simply because their names/birthdays might happen to randomly match, or one person has deliberately claimed to have a different name/birthdate in a identity theft attempt.

License Plates, Credit Cards #'s, Cellphones, .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516540)

Being realistic, you already can't get around and be anonymous unless you make a point of it and inconvenience yourself. The license plate is the most glaring example, as it is prominently displayed on your vehicle wherever you go.

I'm not saying that the Indian ID is a good idea, and I'm not saying that our society is a failure for having such things. I just always find it interesting how soon people take the status quo for granted, when it is far from clear that it is the way it should be, let alone at all in tune with our supposed values.

caste system... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516566)

i can't see why they ask for a person's caste in the application forms. seems to be throwing new concepts after archaic ones.

the potential for abuse is huge. probably too huge. consider the corruption problems India already has.

the system could be made a bit nicer and still be just as useful.

Re:caste system... (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516748)

Because in many places, it's part of a person's identity in India. Though reduced now, it's quite common for legal contracts to state a person's caste, religion, name, father's name, residence, age, and pretty much anything else.

Re:caste system... (1)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516810)

For one thing, affirmative action. India has a HUGE affirmative action program for the "lower castes". Linking caste to the ID ensures that people cannot fraudlently claim caste benefits.

So what happens when.... (2, Funny)

Gunfighter (1944) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516568)

... someone forgets to use unsigned instead of signed and you end up wrapping around to being a negative person?

Re:So what happens when.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516898)

Hopefully the compiled program will crash on that platform because signed integer overflow is technically undefined behavior in C and C++ and cannot be relied upon.

Re:So what happens when.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33517740)

Can you try to be more optimistic and think positive for once? (get it? get it? huh? huh? ;))

What to call it (2, Funny)

bradorsomething (527297) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516616)

I propose we call it the Caste'r-Card.

That way every checkpoint can require Caste'r-Card and Visa to get in.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516620)

Will a four or three-digit Indian UID have as much prestige as it does on Slashdot?

The Social Security Number Of The Beast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33516796)

666-66-6666

What about the Mritak Sangh? (2, Interesting)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516850)

What will this do for Lal Bihari [wikipedia.org] and the many other people declared legally dead (while still possessing for all intents and purposes all characteristics of a living person if not legal identification)? If the answer is "nothing," then I don't see that this is much of an improvement or advancement in the task of maintaining records on your population.

/* Yes, corruption can override anything. I know. */

It's all a matter of implementation (2, Insightful)

Constantin (765902) | more than 4 years ago | (#33516906)

There are many benefits to having a national ID system that go well beyond the SSN in the US. For example, authorities may finally have a pretty good idea how many folk live in a particular area, which helps for voting, disaster-relief, and other efforts traditionally spearheaded by the authorities. Similarly, the use of one unified system that does not rely on the presence of a physical card could hopefully make law enforcement a bit better at avoiding false positives and negatives.

In a country with over a billion inhabitants, having a system that assigns a ID number which is anchored by multiple biometric identifiers seems like a pretty good start, assuming the back end is secure, hard to tamper with, etc. This is what worries me though - similar previous Indian Government efforts, such as "untamperable" electronic voting machines designed for the Indian elections, have been proven to be quite vulnerable to tampering. Similarly, given how easy it can be to bribe corrupt officials, I wonder what the quality of the data will be once it has been entered / maintained / etc. for a while.

The bottom line is that systems which rely on aggregating a lot of data have to be pretty resistant to being fed garbage in the first place and/or manipulated in the future. This is where Indian institutions have to do better in the future and one good reason why India lags other nations as badly as it does. And yet, I imagine the system that is being presented will still be light-years ahead of what India has now.

Re:It's all a matter of implementation (1)

BangaIorean (1848966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517034)

MOD parent up. Refreshing to see a sane comment after all the tripe about 'privacy', 'dictatorship', and so much bullshit. The focus needs to be on the technology being used, the implementation methodology, how secure the databases are going to be, how access will be limited to the system.

Instead of presenting technical facts about this massive implementation and presenting it as a technology article, it's been presented as a [smirks and sniggers] 'your rights online' article, with bullshit scaremongering and half baked information about 'caste system' and 'religion'. This is a retarded article.

Not sleepwalking, more like zombies (2, Informative)

kromagnon (1408869) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517290)

I know it's old but... India Sleepwalks Into a Surveillance Society [slashdot.org]
"ZeroPaid has a fascinating roundup of news stories surrounding the latest surveillance laws passed in India, including a first-hand account of someone writing from inside India. The legislation in question is the Information Technology Act's amendment bill 2006, which was recently passed in the Indian parliament. Things you can't do with the new legislation include surfing for news in Bollywood and looking up porn on the internet. The legislation also allows all transmissions over the internet to be monitored for any form of lawbreaking and permits a sub-inspector to break into your house to make sure you aren't browsing porn on your computer."
Democracy is null and void for the moment.

What's the big surprise here? (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33517530)

  Regrettably this is the way the world is going and the stupid sheeple don't know how to fight back. Also, isn't India the country that cut off the balls of thousands during forced sterilization in the '70s?

Re:What's the big surprise here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33517622)

Yes, you're right.They did it around one year. Pales in comparison to the US - isn't that the country that enslaved millions of blacks and degraded them to the level of Animals for decades and decades.

Indians are Hindu and new to self-government (1, Informative)

ThoreauHD (213527) | more than 4 years ago | (#33518274)

They don't give a shit about Christ or the Anti-Christ or the mark of the beast. All they care about are cows and rubbing burnt cow shit on their foreheads every so often at Temple.

All other interests are either in IT gadget's or what's the best weapon to kill a muslim.

This is a non-issue for them. I'm sure they'll think it's fun, until they realize their new leader is muslim and surprisingly has every tool necessary to exterminate them. But let's let them figure that out on their own. I'm sure they'll be fine.

Primary usage: better control of slaves (citizens) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33518456)

While reading this, I keep thinking of the Story of Your Enslavement video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbp6umQT58A
I wonder when will most people realize this.

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