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Sunday, 15 April 2007

China's Big Brother: World's Biggest ID Database

In a modest 200-square meters enclosure, the National Citizen Identity Information Center (NCIIC) in Beijing hosts the world's biggest ID database, with over 1.3 billion entries.

"By collecting the identity information of China's 1.3 billion population in five years, through an investment amounting to tens of millions yuan, we have succeeded in collating the world's biggest ID database in full compliance with international standards," said Lu Subing, vice director of NCIIC.

In recent times, China has been at significant risk from fraudulent ID cards, which allow swindlers to make illicit gains from social security, banking and telecommunication industries. Police figures have placed at 90 percent the amount of premeditated crimes involving false ID cards, a bane which has cost hundreds of millions of yuan in economic losses annually.

Back in 2001, the Ministry of Public Security conducted a feasibility study of an ID database scheme, jointly carried out across 30 departments and units tackling civil affairs, social security, industry and commerce. At the end of May 2003, NCIIC's four departments reported in, having completed initial work on software research and development, equipment distribution and hardware purchase as well as having begun trial operation. By the end of 2003, the database had garnered information on 210 million people across 42 cities.