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RSA 2013: Aadhaar, the Indian Electronic Identity Scheme, will change lives, says RSA keynote presenter

The need for an electronic identity scheme was indisputable, said Nadhamuni, who revealed that only 30% of India’s population have bank accounts. “The government spends $40bn a year on food, health and jobs subsidies”, he declared, and previously, all ID documents in India were non-electronic. “The government programs are plagued with duplicate IDs causing leakage of 30-40%”, he announced.

The vision of Aadhaar, which is the brand name of the unique identification number (UID), advised Nadhamuni, is “to create a common national identity – based on biometrics – to support online authentication.”

The leap from no identity schemes to an online authentication scheme is a huge departure, admitted Nadhamuni.

The UIDAI’s (The unique identity authority of India) mandate is to issue every resident a unique ID number linked to the resident’s demographic and biometric information.

“The challenge of enrolling a billion people is huge”, Nadhamuni explained. “The sheer technical magnitude makes it a very challenging project.” The people investment in the product is understandably enormous. “There are training courses, the vendors that sell the devices that comply with the specifications, the trained operators.”

The investment is essential, he insisted, as the scheme has the chance “to change lives.”

Nadhamuni was keen to insist that the scheme does not compromise privacy and security in the name of convenience. The security measures that have been put in place include:

  • - Random numbers are generated with no information
  • - Data is encrypted at the source
  • - All packets are biometrically signed by the operator
  • - Raw biometrics never stored in clear text
  • - Data is partitioned across multiple security zones
Aadhaar by Numbers:

To date, these are the key statistics about the progress of Aadhaar:

- 300m aadhaars have been issued
- One million enrolments happen per day (Which, Nadhamuni joked,
is like “adding Finland every week”)
- 40,000 enrolment stations
- 100,000 trained operators
- Storage: 5 petabytes, which will grow to 20




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