India to Issue ID Cards to 1.2 Billion Citizens

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India's government plans to issue a biometric identity card to every one of its 1.2 billion citizens, millions of whom live in remote villages and have no documentary proof of their existence.

The London Times reported that India has created a new government department known as the Unique Identification Authority, which will assign a number to every living citizen.

Nandan Nilekani, who is in charge of the operation, called it a "humongous, mind-boggling challenge."

"But we have the opportunity to give every Indian citizen, for the first time, a unique identity," he told the Times. "We can transform the country."
    
A computer chip in each card will contain personal data and proof of identity, such as fingerprint, iris scans, criminal records and credit histories.

Currently, Indian citizens can have up to 20 different proofs of identity from birth certificates and driving licenses to ration cards. The new biometric card would help to settle the identity confusion for millions who move from one state to the next.
    
However, critics have called the program "Big Brother" and worry that identity thieves could target all of the personal information which will be on the world's largest online database.

The government said the first cards will be issued within 18 months.

Source: Telegraph UK News

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