Report: Beyond the Hype of ID4D, Identity for Development

Beyond the Hype of ID4D is a literature review of national digital identity systems that has a unique focus on human rights, privacy and other detrimental impacts on society. Our focus on putting humanness first, before technology, we have serious concerns about the impact of large scale centralized national digital identity systems. We do not share the techno-optimism of many of the proponents of these systems.

We learned about this literature review in 2019 while Kaliya was in a New America India- US Public Interest Technology Fellowship. There was a global community working on technology policy research for the public good. The report was originally commissioned from the Ranking Digital Rights [RDR] project at New America by the Omidyar Network. It is important to note that this work produced by RDR reflects their conclusions and perspectives and does not in any way represent or describe the funder’s positions on Digital ID or related issues.

RDR works to promote freedom of expression and privacy on the internet by creating global standards and incentives for companies to respect and protect users’ rights.

This report presents “a comprehensive overview of privacy and human rights challenges resulting from systems before proposing an evaluation framework to guide governments, donors, and implementers.” Our hope in bringing this work out into the public is to support a broader audience having access to relevant works that can serve the ongoing multi-stakeholder engagement in various contexts around the development of digital identity systems in nation-states and in the humanitarian sector.

HumanFirst.Tech has a focus on emerging digital identity technologies. One of the issues with technology development is the failure to articulate threats to the system before building technology and then proactively mitigating the risks identified as it is built. It was refreshing to see these risks actually discussed in this review, based on the findings in the literature.

We are thankful that the RDR agreed to work with us to support the work being published.

Our hope is that the work can be part of the global dialogue about digital identity systems broadly. We also plan to foster part of the dialogue via HumanFirst.Tech, and if you would like to engage with us. We encourage you to reach out via e-mail to learn how to participate.

Download the Report here