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Verayo, Bartronics Unveil Unclonable Solution for Indian ID Market

The two companies are teaming to offer a tag to Indian government and mass-transit agencies for authentic identifications.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 01, 2009Targeting the Indian government's plans to issue unique identification (UID) cards to all of its citizens, automatic-identification product provider Bartronics India and California-based Verayo are joining forces to provide an inexpensive secure RFID tag. The tag could be used by government agencies to link client information with the individual's UID data in a central government-managed database. Independent of the UID program, the tags could be utilized by India's mass-transit agency to provide an unclonable transit ticket that could be purchased and used by transit passengers.

With the UID program led by the Unique Identification Authority, under India's Planning Commission, the nation's central government is preparing to assign a unique ID number (similar to a Social Security number in the United States) to each individual in the country that would remain a permanent identifier from birth to death. Expected to go live in 2010, the program aims to provide ID numbers to 600 million people—approximately half the population—within the first four years. A government central server will store each individual's name and UID number, the names and UID numbers of his or her parents, an expiration date and a photograph.

Thus far, various Indian governmental agencies—such as those involved with regulating health care and or providing driver's licenses—that already issue identification cards could encode those cards with each person's UID number (written to a card's RFID chip or printed onto the card as a bar code). Alternatively, each card could store a unique ID number linked to the cardholder's government UID number. In either case, a governmental agency could store data in a centralized location regarding a citizen and the particular services he or she receives.

The Unique Identification Authority is not endorsing any specific technology, RFID or otherwise. However, Vivek Khandelwal, Verayo's marketing and business development VP, says that in India, "there are multiple government agencies that have been adopting RFID-enabled ID cards, transport tickets, etc. This makes us believe this is a good market for a Verayo low-cost authentication solution." While Khandelwal notes that the government has not expressed a concern related to security in RFID technology, he believes such a concern is prevalent.

With the partnership, Khandelwal says, the two companies hope to provide Indian agencies or commercial interests with an unclonable 13.56 MHz RFID chip, based on the ISO 14443-A standard, for about the same price as a regular, less-secure RFID chip. Verayo's RFID chip includes a security layer known as Physical Unclonable Functions (PUF), which the firm claims renders the chip unclonable (see PUF Technology Catches Clones). The Verayo PUF layer results in a unique signature that can be analyzed to determine if a tag is authentic.

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