End Times News Update
Sign: Mark of the Beast (biometrics, ID tech news)
Scripture: Rev 13:16-18
News Source: BBC News
29 September 2010 Last updated at 08:31 ET

India to compile ‘world’s biggest’ ID database

India has launched a huge national identity scheme aimed at cutting
fraud and improving access to state benefits.

Using biometric methods, including an iris scan, the system will log
details of India’s population of more than one billion people on a
central database.

It was launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress party
leader Sonia Gandhi in western India.

The data will be stored online in what India says will be the biggest
such national database in the world.

The unique identification (UID) programme will help those in poor,
marginalised communities who find it difficult to access public
services and benefits because they do not have official records,
officials say.

The government expects to give a UID number to every Indian citizen
within four years.

Birth registration is not universal and it is hoped that the database
will give an accurate picture of Indian society.

‘Special moment’

The new ID scheme was launched in the village of Tembhili in Nandurbar
district of western Maharashtra state.
Children in India The government says better ID will mean benefits are
delivered more fairly

The ID numbers were handed out to 10 people, including three children.

The tiny village of 1,500 people was colourfully decorated and the
villagers were excited to see Congress chief Sonia Gandhi – who smiled
and waved at them – although few locals knew what the scheme was
about, the BBC’s Prachi Pinglay reports from Tembhili village.

Prime Minister Singh described the start of the process as a “special
moment” that would empower the most marginalised in society.

“It will help strengthen the rights of the downtrodden and the
poorest, including women,” AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Mrs Gandhi described the launch as a “new beginning” for India.

Billionaire IT expert Nandan Nilekani, who was drafted in by the
government to run the project, was also present at the function.

Under the scheme, all Indians will be issued a 12-digit ID number
which they will use to receive welfare handouts, to apply for other
documents like passports and even to open bank accounts, the BBC’s
Mark Dummett in Delhi says.

As well as iris scans, photographs, fingerprints and other personal
information will be collected and then stored on a vast central

The government hopes this will prevent corrupt officials from faking
the names of people seeking welfare benefits or access to education –
potentially saving billions of dollars.

Critics, however, complain that the project itself will cost billions
of dollars and are also worried about the authorities collecting so
much personal information.

Others say there is no guarantee that the scheme really will make much
of a difference to India’s corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy. Some
say the focus should be on improving services for the poor, rather
than access to them.

Source: BBC News