Rajit Devraj/Interpress Service for Truthout
New Delhi - Fears about loss of privacy are being voiced as India gears up to launch an ambitious scheme to biometrically identify and number each of its 1.2 billion inhabitants.
In September, 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.
"The UID is soft infrastructure, much like mobile telephony, important to connect individuals to the broader economy," explains Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the UIDAI and listed in 2009 by Time magazine as among the world's 100 most influential people.
Nilekani is a co-founder of the influential National Association of Software and Services Companies and, before this assignment, chief of Infosys Technologies, flagship of India's information technology (IT) sector.
According to Nilekani, the UID will most benefit India's poor who, because they lack identity documentation, are ignored by service providers.
"The UID number, with its 'anytime, anywhere' biometric authentication, addresses the problem of trust," argues Nilekani.
But a group of prominent civil society organisations are running a Campaign For No-UID, explaining that it is a "deeply undemocratic and expensive exercise" that is "fraught with unforeseen consequences."
Participants in the campaign include well-known human rights organisations such as the Alternative Law Forum, Citizen Action Forum, People's Union for Civil Liberties, Indian Social Action Forum, and the Centre for Internet and Society. :::MORE HERE:::
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