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Yahoo! keen to help India with citizen ID project

Project will see country’s 1.1 billion citizens have unique identification numbers

Yahoo! keen to help India with citizen ID project
The Government of India wants to introduce special ID cards to all its citizens.

Yahoo! wants to be part of India's ambitious plans to introduce unique identity numbers for its 1.1 billion citizens.

The government project, headed ex co-chairman of Infosys Technologies Nandan Nilekani, will see the creation of a database for India's citizens based on identification numbers, similar to how social security numbers work in the United States.

Earlier this year, Microsoft and IBM expressed interest in getting involved with the project, and now Yahoo! has thrown its hat in the ring as well.

According to a Business Standard report, Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz met with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week and stated that Yahoo! should be used for the project because of its major presence in the country. The company claims that three out of four Indians access the internet through Yahoo!

Bartz also pointed out that there was absolutely no commercial interest in the deal and that the company had the expertise to handle such large amounts of data.

"There is no commercial interest involved in offering Yahoo's services for the UID project... We have been in India for many years. It is time to pay back to the nation," Yahoo India (R&D) VP and CEO Shovick Mukherjee stated in reaction to the news.

The fact that Yahoo! would be willing to take on the project on a non-profit basis would be appealing though it is unclear whether Microsoft and IBM have the same non-commercial stance. Rumours are rife that Cisco is also keen to take part, though no official announcements have been made yet.

The Hindu reported that the centre was kick-started financially with an interim Rs.100 crore ($1 billion) from the government, while it has been assured that no government agency will interfere in the planning and implementation of the project.

The first UID cards are scheduled to be distributed to citizens in India in the year 2011.

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