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World's Largest Biometric Database 117

An anonymous reader writes "In the last two years, over 200 million Indian nationals have had their fingerprints and photographs taken and irises scanned, and given a unique 12-digit number that should identify them everywhere and to everyone. This is only the beginning, and the goal is to do the same with the entire population (1.2 billion), so that poorer Indians can finally prove their existence and identity when needed for getting documents, getting help from the government, and opening bank and other accounts. This immense task needs a database that can contain over 12 billion fingerprints, 1.2 billion photographs, and 2.4 billion iris scans, can be queried from diverse devices connected to the Internet, and can return accurate results in an extremely short time."
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World's Largest Biometric Database

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  • Your social security number just won't cut it in the future.

  • by golden age villain ( 1607173 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:04PM (#40235253)
    Wired had an article running about it already last year [].
    • What is news is that we have crossed the 200 million number and should by the end of next year cross the 600 million unique person enrolled. It has been a fun project to be a part of...

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:09PM (#40235307) Journal
    When the system breaks, at least getting connected to tech support in India won't seem like such a bad thing...
    • When the system breaks, at least getting connected to tech support in India won't seem like such a bad thing...

      They will probably outsource tech support to Liberia or Sierra Leone.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Nadaka ( 224565 )

        Or worse, Kentucky.

        Imagine how frustrating it will be for those indians as they listen to barely literate hillfolk stutter out stilted strongly accented hindi read from cue cards.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "The biometric iris recognition scans used at many security checkpoints may be less reliable than previously believed, researchers at the University of Notre Dame have found. "

  • UIDAI Website (Score:5, Informative)

    by romit_icarus ( 613431 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:17PM (#40235399) Journal
    For those who are interested to know more, here is their quite detailed website [] More than anything else, it conveys the logistical and bureaucratical complexity of executing a project of this dimension across a country like India.
  • Twelve digits, eh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They'll run out in a few centuries, and then what?

    Next time, go hexadecimal from the start.

  • Where does India outsource /their/ IT jobs for managing things like this database?

    • Re:Outsourcing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:54PM (#40235853)

      Where does India outsource /their/ IT jobs for managing things like this database?

      Erm, the United States. We're the world leaders in the manufacture of sophisticated mass-surveillance and tracking technology. It's our other major export besides financial know-how, bombs, and working-class misery. The NSA is building a data center right now to track every packet of data sent within the borders of this country. And we don't just store biometric hashes -- W're taking complete, high-resolution imagery of our citizens bodies and keeping them on file. The kind of surveillance and tracking we do on our own citizens make this look like a high school science project.

      There's no reason to think we wouldn't happily help the corporation of India... er, I mean, the country of India (sorry, I'm American.. it's hard to keep corporations and governments separate).

      • by Matheus ( 586080 )

        To be very specific: The 3 consortiums involved are US, US, FR as far as the tech goes. Each consortium includes a few different companies all of which, I believe, include some local talent for support / logistics and some code.

    • Typically to the same Indian companies the other companies outsource to
  • by Anonymous Coward

    India is a messed up 3rd world country with too much corruption and too much of losses to the middlemen. For example, discounted food supplies sent to the poorer sections of the society are misappropriated by the distribution stores. Very small percentage of the poorer population has bank accounts or even an identity card of any sort, or often times even a birth certificate. ( so think of trying to do something in the US without a state id.. or ssn!)

    Yes there is a chance that this will get hacked - but this

  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:59PM (#40235915) Homepage Journal

    What if you get severely burned and then have no irises, fingerprints, and your face looks different? They should be incorporating DNA too.

  • Biometrics are not just fingerprints: Apple's Siri and whatever imitation was made available for Android do one thing very well: they export a pristine, digital quality voiceprint with owner details to the US every time they are used.

    It's the second largest successful intelligence intercept ever - the first one being WhatsApp and iMessage tapping what was formerly harder-to-get SMS traffic..

  • I am from India and had my scanning done a week back. The software seemed to be a qt hackjob loaded on multiple ubuntu laptops. The photo came out funny but the 10 finger and iris scans were detailed enough to make me feel uneasy. Not to mention the fact that every piece of identification from graduation certificates to driving licenses to bank account numbers are linked to this single database. Bah.. Its India.. who cares for data privacy here...
  • It was recently reported that Irises actually change over time. This begs the question of how accurate this data will be in 5 years? 10 years?

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford