geekspeak

Unique Identification Card

PROJECT NAME AADHAR- a name that has gained hype in recent times aims at giving a “Unique Identity” (UID) to all Indian through a 12 digit code, a gargantuan task considering our humungous population. The information stored, will include all personal details, biometrics, contact details, financial details and medical history.

The UID number that will be allotted to the citizens has a very interesting design. The first 11 of the digits are TOTALLY RANDOM generated by a non-repeating algorithm while the 12th digit is logically allotted. The actual ID is the first 11 digits while the 12th digit is the check digit which will help prevent any typo. The generation of the 12th digit is based on the Verhoeff scheme used for checksum to prevent data-entry errors. The errors can vary from most common ones like single digit error, from phonetic to rare ones like transposition. A major victory for this project would be to have a high TAR (true acceptance rate) for the biometric scanning. TAR is a measure of the correctness of the scanner. To achieve this, the database is required to have very high quality images of the biometrics. There are technical groups assigned to collect fingerprints and analyze quality to help eliminate the causes of possible errors.

The vast size of the data poses two interesting problems. First is the problem of storage of all the data and to make it available for editing at all times . Second is the problem of creating a UID number which shall be easy enough to be memorized and yet random and difficult enough to prevent guessing.

AADHAAR will be home to all the credentials of individuals including bank A/c numbers, asset’s attorney, etc. This information needs to be protected from physical as well as cyber threats, which, if happen, would in a way mean the person’s identity stolen. To avoid this scenario, UIDAI has charted out a robust security design that will secure all the technology components from logical or physical attack. Firstly, it is server security which includes a firewall, along with intrusion prevention and detection systems (IPS, IDS). On top of this, there will be network and client security that includes encryption of information transmitted over the network or stored in the database.

Government plans to give UID to 50% of the citizens by 2014. This means data of 600 M citizens to be stored, ready for access at all times. Along with this the system will have to compare the information given by a person with the other 599,999,999 to check if it is actually unique, a major challenge. To tackle this, the govt. will join hands with private IT firms.

The Unique Identification project is undoubtedly amongst the biggest e-governance projects that the Government of India has taken up. The whole project AADHAR is based on a lot of assumptions on which its success depends. It is only a matter of time we’ll see whether it turns out to be the biggest success of our govt. or a disastrous failure.