India wants to fingerprint and eye scan all of its 1.2 billion people in the most massive and complex national ID effort ever tried. The country has recruited tech experts worldwide—from Google employees to the co-founder of photo-sharing site Snapfish—to help out. India will assign a 12-digit number to every member of its huge population in an attempt to alleviate some of the persistent development problems it’s faced even as its economy booms. The ID numbers will help the poorest Indians get access to banking as well as ensure they receive welfare. But identity theft is one of India’s biggest problems, and some wonder whether that will blunt the impact of the program. And civil liberties groups say the government isn’t sufficiently protecting all the information it’s harvesting on its people. Another complication is India’s spotty Internet infrastructure, which may make sending huge amounts of information from the countryside to the city difficult. India aims to have 600 million identified in four years.
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