Monday, September 14, 2009

Nilekani acknowledges security and privacy concerns over the UID [India - Data Protection/Privacy]

Nandan Nilekani conceded that there are “legitimate” apprehensions over the proposed Unique Identification Number database’s being vulnerable to hacking and misuse. He said that given the inclusivity, enormous opportunity and developmental benefits it will provide, Unique Identification Database (UID) project is worth the risks.
Mr. Nilekani, the chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate program that the project had so many significant benefits for the poor in making it inclusive and in giving them a chance to participate in the country’s progress.To question on the possibility of the database being hacked, he said that they would have to design it as foolproof as possible by incorporating checks and balances. After saying “in every system, there will be people who will try to hack on it,” he asked if the security risks it involves are enough to do away with the project.
Responding to a question about the worthiness of spending an amount as huge as Rs 1.5 lakh crore in a country where 80 per cent of the population live under Rs 20 a day, Mr Nilkani rejected the estimation although he couldn’t spell out the exact amount. “Whatever the cost be, the social, economic and efficiency benefits of it would make it well worth it,” he said. The investment in this project would actually make all those other money be spent on education, health for women and children and sanitation programmes more efficiently. When asked whether the project will be helpful in solving the irregularities relating to the allotment of BPL cards as it can’t identify those who should have BPL cards and do not, replied that UID is not a panacea for all the problems but an enabler of more effective public delivery.

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