India’s controversial biometric ID card system could become the only one

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If you were waiting for the Indian government to slow down (or completely stop) with its push to bring Aadhaar biometric identity system into your lives, don’t hold your breath.

Started as an optional program, in the recent years, the government has upped the ante and has made it mandatory to use Aadhar card in order to access other services.

As has been the case in the past, the decision was immediately met with sharp criticism. 

But the government is now clarifying that it won’t be withdrawing its move, giving its citizens yet another look at how it intends to move forward with its biometric system.  Read more…

More about Security, Privacy, Government, Aadhaar, and India

Microsoft launches Skype Lite for India that works on slow internet and supports Aadhaar

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Microsoft has just found the perfect Skype app for the Indian market. 

At an event in Mumbai today, Satya Nadella announced Skype Lite, a 13MB app that works even on slower networks and on lower-end phones with limited storage and processing power. 

On top of this, Skype Lite leverages Aadhaar, India’s biometric database, as its “fundamental authentication system,” Nadella said. “We’re very excited about what we are doing with Skype, and the India Stack (the infrastructure of Aadhaar that allows private companies to interact with the database).” Read more…

More about Microsoft, Skype, Aadhaar, India, and Tech

India’s database with biometric details of its billion citizens ignites privacy debate

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“Indians in general have yet to understand the meaning and essence of privacy,” says Member of Parliament, Tathagata Satpathy. 

But on Feb. 3, privacy was the hot topic of debate among many in India, thanks to a tweet that showed random people being identified on the street via Aadhaar, India’s ubiquitous database that has biometric information of more than a billion Indians.

That’s how India Stack, the infrastructure built by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), welcomed OnGrid, a privately owned company that is going to tap on the world’s largest biometrics system, conjuring images of Minority Report style surveillance. Read more…

More about Privacy, Security, Uidai, Aadhaar, and India

You might have to prove your identity before topping up your phone credit in India

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In India, people may soon be asked to prove their identity before topping credit to their pay as you go phone.

In a move to fight digital fraud, the country’s Supreme Court has asked the government to make it mandatory for prepaid mobile phone subscribers to disclose their identity before adding refilling credit to their account. 

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar made the announcement Monday addressing a plea brought to the court. It has given the government a year to implement the program in a phased manner.  Read more…

More about Business, Privacy, Aadhaar, Phone, and Mobile

This country will give all its senior citizens a biometrics-based smart health card

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India’s audacious push to bring and make use of Aadhaar, the world’s largest biometrics database, was one of the highlights at the annual financial budget unveiled in the country today.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that senior citizens in the country will soon get Aadhaar-based smart cards. These cards would feature their health and other information, Jaitley added. The government will first run a pilot project in 15 districts during the 2017-18 fiscal year. 

Aadhaar is a biometrics-backed (fingerprint, iris, or facial features) national ID system that the government is positioning as a solution to bring its 1.3 billion people to the digital age. Over one billion people and 99% of the country’s adult population are already enrolled in the system.  Read more…

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