The Wall Street Journal reports on a national identification program in India:
India’s vaunted tech savvy is being put to the test this week as the country embarks on a daunting mission: assigning a unique 12-digit number to each of its 1.2 billion people.
The project, which seeks to collect fingerprint and iris scans from all residents and store them in a massive central database of unique IDs, is considered by many specialists the most technologically and logistically complex national identification effort ever attempted. […]
Critics question whether the project can have as big an impact as its backers promise, given that identity fraud is but one contributor to India’s development struggles. Civil-liberties groups say the government is collecting too much personal information without sufficient safeguards. […]
In addition to biometrics, residents provided an array of personal information, including their caste, religion and cellphone number. State agencies and companies who register people can gather whatever information they deem appropriate.
Such vast data gathering rankles privacy advocates who say demographic details can potentially be used to discriminate in the services that companies offer customers or government agencies offer citizens.
Another concern is that marketers will find ways to build profiles of people based on how they use their IDs—tracking where people bank, which hospitals they have checked into and who their cellphone providers are, for example.