A password to India


Aadhaar stands to revolutionize information security with biometric identification, writes Marcello Antonucci

Would you dig a moat to protect your house from burglars?

Of course not. Why then do we use archaic means such as alphanumeric identifiers and passwords to protect our electronic data? Many companies still rely on these security mechanisms today. Fortunately, India is making ground-breaking strides towards the biometric identification of its citizens, which, with the proper safeguards, stand to revolutionize the state of modern information security. As biometric identification becomes more widely adopted globally, entities utilizing this technology should consider India’s experience.

Marcello_Antonucci_-_Beazley_hi-resIndia’s foray into biometric identification began in early 2009, with the creation of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), whose goal is to provide every Indian resident with a biometrically secured form of identification, known as “Aadhaar”. UIDAI collects fingerprint, iris and demographic data along with a photograph of each Aadhaar applicant and associates that information with a 12-digit identification number that can be used as universal proof of identity for public or private services, from obtaining social assistance funds to opening a bank account. Each applicant’s data are stored in a central database that allows for real-time biometric authentication when an Aadhaar number requires confirmation.

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Marcello Antonucci is an international claims manager for technology, media and business services at the Beazley Group in New York. The author would like to thank his claims assistant, Alan Fiano, and John Morgan at Clyde & Co for their important contributions to this piece.