What is digital identity?
Definitions of digital identity are ever-expanding, and hard to describe.
From e-passports to refugee registration cards, from online banking records to your social media profile – everyday, digital systems enable us to travel, do business, access services and stay connected.
When we talk about digital identity, digital ID and digital identification, we are really describing how digital technology is altering identification systems - systems that existed before in analogue ways.
There are physical objects that people carry like driving licenses or passports. Yet these only work when there is a cohesive system behind them. There is also a growing network of credentials, linked databases, and “data trails” that get recorded as we use more and different digital services.
Digital technology is fundamentally changing how all these arrangements work. It is speeding up processes that once took a long time. And it is becoming more and more affordable and prominent in daily life, in every corner of the world.
What is Good ID?
Good ID represents an aspirational - yet fully realistic - goal to ensure all forms of identification, especially those new to the digital age, are good for people as well as business and government.
Too often, the needs, experiences, and rights of citizens are not considered when designing ID-related systems.
Good ID reflects a world where governments, companies, and technologists who produce identity systems and handle personal data care about you. They care who collects your data and how much, how they secure it, what they do with it, and how you as an individual can have greater control over it and make it work for you.
At its core, Good ID empowers individuals with privacy, security, and user-control. It addresses power, exclusion, discrimination, surveillance, consent, and other key issues of our time.
Good ID is not a product nor is it an idea owned by one organization. It’s the result of collective and careful design of policies, technologies, and practices at every level of society, keeping people’s interests in mind.
Is Good ID a new idea?
The Good ID concept is based on a foundational set of principles from 2016 that first articulated how national identity systems can be inclusively designed and governed, aiming for “Legal Identity for All” and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 by 2030.
As many work to give more people access to digital IDs, the call for Good ID raises the importance of empowering and protecting them – with privacy, security, and user-control – in the process.
All 7 billion people on the planet must have Good ID so they can fully and fearlessly engage in society without the threat of identity theft, data breaches, surveillance, discrimination, exclusion, and other harms.
This includes the 1.1 billion people who still do not have a legal form of identification and cannot prove who they are in order to open a bank account, register for school, activate a mobile phone, obtain formal employment, or receive social benefits.
It also includes everyone who uses the internet and produces identifiable data trails, and whose personal data is may be used by others without their consent. And it applies to people who opt to self-assert and protect their identities using sovereign technologies like the blockchain.
What is the #GoodID movement?
The #GoodID movement explores how best to:
- Offer users more choices and control, protect their rights, empower them to manage how they are identified, and design transparently with user interests in mind
- Build trust and acceptance, provide accurate records, secure data and systems, make privacy and security system defaults, collect and store minimal data, reduce and address harms, hold authorities accountable, and audit for misuses, breaches, and other issues
- Ensure universal coverage, eliminate discrimination, and design ID systems through programs of work so that they are inclusive and accessible
- Improve efficiency and utility, allow data and IDs to be design interoperable and responsive systems, leverage open source technology, and provide unique identifiers
- Plan for future growth and changes linked to sustainability and scalability
- Create IDs which are portable
These are not simple tasks. Tensions and trade-offs are deeply embedded in the journey. And yet, we can make progress.
Through conversation and collaborative initiatives, the #GoodID movement will explore the different interests of people, governments, and businesses, learn from implementation, and build better systems that work for governments, business and individuals.
Who is involved?
Good ID is championed by dozens of organizations and people who believe in digital dignity, data protection, quality identification systems that help people thrive, and human-centered technologies.
Through global dialogue with governments, technologists, civil society, and all sectors of business, Good ID champions are helping to uphold personal privacy, security, and user control in policy, technology design, and practice.
Omidyar Network first began championing Good ID in 2016. The World Bank, UK Department for International Development, UN Economic Commission for Africa, World Economic Forum, Open Society Foundations, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Engine Room, Caribou Digital, ID2020 Alliance, GSMA, several startups and humanitarian organizations, and others have, in their own ways, helped shape and embrace key aspects of Good ID as well.
Offering win-win-win solutions that help all parties achieve their goals, this action-oriented group is breaking down barriers at a critical time.
Everyone is welcome, especially those who do not typically engage in “digital identity” discussions. We need diverse perspectives from every sector of society to ensure the best solutions.
What can I do?
It’s now more important than ever for a diverse community of stakeholders to align on Good ID. As the pace of change accelerates, now is an incredible opportunity to build systems which have a positive impact on society in the decades to come.
More than 60 percent of African countries are planning to launch or refresh their identity programs in the next two years. Many countries are drafting and debating new data protection laws following the European Union’s landmark regulation, noting how laws have failed to keep pace with technological advances.
And in response to several recent data-related scandals, public debate is heating up about new business models, checks, and balances, and innovators are racing to bring forward new and reformed, privacy-enhancing products to serve a trust-broken market.
How do we ensure identification systems are inclusive, secure, and respects privacy? How can people gain more control over their personal data?
These are the questions the #GoodID movement will explore. Your perspective will help ensure the future of identity is Good ID.
How can I take part?
To seize the potential of Good ID, we need all sectors and segments of society to help define it and make a commitment to move it forward, uniquely in each context.
We invite anyone who is actively designing or refreshing identification systems, building applications on top of them, navigating the legal and political complexities of digital identity, researching the topic, and advocating on behalf of vulnerable groups to join the conversations taking place in person and online.
There are four key ways you can take part and help shape the dialogue:
– Help frame Good ID: give your suggestions in the growing glossary
– Submit an article: pitch your perspective or expertise on what makes Good ID
– Join the conversation on Twitter: look out for live discussions, latest news and views
– Stay in touch: sign up to the email bulletin for monthly updates and events