All senior citizens in India will receive a biometrics-based smart health card that will store their personal information and medical records, announced Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, as Aadhaar, India’s “Unique Identification Number,” gains traction.
Aadhaar, the world’s largest database, with 750 million biometric and online identities, is a project with strong government backing. The government will operate a pilot project in 15 districts in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Biometrics will help avoid duplicates and reinforce authentication by scanning citizens’ fingerprints and iris. In 2009 when the project kicked off, the government offered incentives for voluntary enrollment in hope of making the process faster and reducing corruption associated with it.
Between 2009 and 2013, 500 million people were enrolled, Aadhaar receiving a budget of $555m. In 2017, “over one billion people and 99% of the country’s adult population are already enrolled in the system,” writes Mashable.
As of last May, several debates were initiated and concerns were expressed about the effects this project may have on privacy, as the government decided to incorporate Aadhaar in financial services for the digital exchange of money.
“It could also usher in surveillance far more intrusive than the U.S. telephone and Internet spying revealed by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, some privacy advocates said,” Reuters wrote last year.