Establishing identity a cellphone call away: Nilekani

Establishing identity a cellphone call away: Nilekani

New Delhi: Establishing the identity of any person would be a cellphone call away once the ambitious Unique Identity Project (UIP) becomes operational, perhaps making it the first such initiative across the world.

The UIP, which aims to build a database on details of every Indian resident, will provide authorities to cross-check identities of persons they are dealing with using a cellphone, Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman Nandan Nilekani said here on Saturday.

“If anybody wants to confirm the identity of a person, all he has to do is to take the thumbprint or fingerprint of the person on a cellphone and send it across to the central database and receive authentication within seconds," he said delivering the CSIR Foundation Day Lecture here.

He said the UIDAI was in the process of designing and developing systems that will make such navigation possible.

Nilekani said that UIDAI would perhaps be the first body in the world to make available online authentication where agencies can compare demographic and biometric information of the resident with the record stored in the central database.

However, the online authentication would be done only through a ‘Yes or No´ response and the UIDAI will not share resident data with the authorities, he said.

The sheer enormity of the project could be gauged by the fact that currently similar databases of 120 million identities are available and UIDAI is in the process of building a register of 1.2 billion people, Nilekani said.

The database would be developed in partnership with the government and private agencies across the country, he said.

These agencies, including mobile service providers, cooking gas outlets, passport offices, NREGA and PDS authorities, would act as registrars or enrollers for the UIP.

The details of persons approaching any of the above points of contact will be stored in the Central ID Data Repository (CIDR).

The CIDR will contain basic information like name, date and place of birth, gender, name of father and mother and their UID numbers, address, photograph and fingerprints.

The system will have an inbuilt mechanism to avoid duplication of data and the CIDR will perform a search on key demographic fields of the applicant before accepting the data.

Nilekani said the first set of unique identity numbers will be issued in the next 12-18 months and the UIDAI plans to cover 600 million people within four years from the start of the project.

Elimination of duplicate identities under various schemes is expected to save the national exchequer of over Rs20,000 crore every year, Nilekani said.