Sunday, November 15, 2009

India's National Identity head steps down to reorganize

c/o Wall Street Journal

NEW DELHI -- The tech chieftain leading India's effort to issue biometric national ID cards to its 1.2 billion people says the first challenge he faces isn't technological -- it's political.

Nandan Nilekani stepped down as co-chairman of outsourcing giant Infosys Ltd. in June to take over the massive government project, collecting information on its citizens and helping India's poor get access to services that require proof of identity, from government wheat rations to mobile-phone subscriptions. The initiative requires basic personal details and biometric data such as fingerprints to be collected from every corner of the country and safeguarded from hackers.

Critics are questioning various aspects of the ID project, including its cost, its technological feasibility and the security of identity records stored in the government's central database. The government has earmarked $25 million in the current fiscal year to get the project going. Outside estimates of the full cost of completing the ID database range from $2 billion to $30 billion. Mr. Nilekani declined to provide an estimate. ::: MORE HERE:::

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