Digital ID tech is moving fast. #GoodID will ensure it doesn’t break things

#Good Id


In the United States, proof, for the moment anyway, is accomplished via a small piece of black and white paper — or even just a picture of it — with details of one’s vaccination record often handwritten. It feels like an artifact from another era. Contrast that to the European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate. Its scannable QR code can instantly access data from government health systems revealing vaccination status, COVID-19 test results and even acquired immunity from an infection.


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The Digital COVID Certificate is an example of a digital ID. Governments are increasingly adopting these technologies in order to solve a global problem: the lack of official ID for one billion people around the world. This is a huge barrier to participating in modern society — limiting access to jobs, school and even engaging in the basic activities of everyday life. Digital IDs can make it easier and safer for individuals to bank, vote, travel, obtain government services and safeguard their social media profiles and interactions.

But here’s the problem: Digital IDs can also be used to restrict freedoms, increase surveillance and actually make it harder to do many of the things they are supposed to facilitate. For example, over the last couple of years, concerns in India over privacy protections — and in Kenya over documentation requirements that were excluding already marginalized communities — have made national digital ID programs contentious issues (indeed, the Kenyan High Court ruled the IDs invalid after finding the government failed to properly safeguard citizen privacy in the rollout). Even in Europe, critics worry that its EU COVID certificates could end up restricting the movements of people in low-income countries who can’t comply with the stringent “chain of trust” often involved in establishing digital IDs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many technological shifts — how many of us knew what Zoom was before last spring? Rapidly developed mRNA COVID vaccines are themselves a case study in scientific and technological progress. Now efforts in the United States and Europe to require proof of said vaccination for a number of activities offer a preview of the immense opportunities possible as identification evolves — as well as a warning of its potential pitfalls if not done right. – #Good Id

In the United States, proof, for the moment anyway, is accomplished via a small piece of black and white paper — or even just a picture of it — with details of one’s vaccination record often handwritten. It feels like an artifact from another era. Contrast that to the European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate. Its scannable QR code can instantly access data from government health systems revealing vaccination status, COVID-19 test results and even acquired immunity from an infection.

The Digital COVID Certificate is an example of a digital ID. Governments are increasingly adopting these technologies in order to solve a global problem: the lack of official ID for one billion people around the world. This is a huge barrier to participating in modern society — limiting access to jobs, school and even engaging in the basic activities of everyday life. Digital IDs can make it easier and safer for individuals to bank, vote, travel, obtain government services and safeguard their social media profiles and interactions.

But here’s the problem: Digital IDs can also be used to restrict freedoms, increase surveillance and actually make it harder to do many of the things they are supposed to facilitate. For example, over the last couple of years, concerns in India over privacy protections — and in Kenya over documentation requirements that were excluding already marginalized communities — have made national digital ID programs contentious issues (indeed, the Kenyan High Court ruled the IDs invalid after finding the government failed to properly safeguard citizen privacy in the rollout). Even in Europe, critics worry that its EU COVID certificates could end up restricting the movements of people in low-income countries who can’t comply with the stringent “chain of trust” often involved in establishing digital IDs.

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