As governments across the globe implement new, foundational, digital identification systems (“Digital ID”), or modernize existing ID programs, there is dire need for greater research and discussion about appropriate uses of Digital ID systems. This significant momentum for creating Digital ID in several parts of the world has been accompanied with concerns about the privacy and exclusion harms of a state issued Digital ID system, resulting in campaigns and litigations in countries such as UK, India, Kenya, and Jamaica. Given the very large range of considerations required to evaluate Digital ID projects, it is necessary to think of evaluation frameworks that can be used for this purpose.
At RightsCon 2019 in Tunis, we are presenting working drafts on appropriate use of Digital ID by the partner organisations of this three-region research alliance - ITS from Brazil, CIPIT from Kenya, and CIS from India.
In the draft by CIS, we propose a set of principles against which Digital ID may be evaluated. We hope that these draft principles can evolve into a set of best practices that can be used by policymakers when they create and implement Digital ID systems, provide guidance to civil society examinations of Digital ID and highlight questions for further research on the subject. We have drawn from approaches used in documents such as the necessary and proportionate principles, the OECD privacy guidelines and scholarship on harms based approaches.
We are happy to announce a new research grant on Digital Identities at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS). This grant is supported by Omidyar Network India, as part of a three region alliance to be co-led by the Institute for Technology & Society (ITS), Brazil, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT), Kenya, and the CIS, India — on the Appropriate Use of Digital Identity. As part of this Alliance, we at the CIS will look at the policy objectives of digital identity projects, how technological policy choices can be thought through to meet the objectives, and how legitimate uses of a digital identity framework may be evaluated.
There is significant momentum on creation of digital identity projects especially after the adoption of UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.9, which calls for legal identity for all by 2030. Given the importance of this subject, its implications for both the development agenda as well its impact on civil, social and economic rights, there is a need for more focused research that can enable policymakers to take better decisions, guide civil society in different jurisdictions to comment on and raise questions about digital identity schemes, and provide actionable material to the industry to create identity solutions that are privacy enhancing and inclusive. We look forward to producing research that can contribute to the above.
Read the blog post by Subhashish Bhadra (Principal, Investments, Omidyar Network) announcing the three-region research alliance on the appropriate use of digital identity.
This website presents research undertaken by the Centre for Internet and Society, India on appropriate design choices for digital identity frameworks, and their implications for both the sustainable development agenda as well for civil, social and economic rights. This research is supported by a grant from Omidyar Network India.
CIS is a non-profit organisation that undertakes interdisciplinary research on internet and digital technologies from policy and academic perspectives. Through its diverse initiatives, CIS explores, intervenes in, and advances contemporary discourse and regulatory practices around internet, technology, and society in India, and elsewhere.