This comprehensive report, on the topic of digital cooperation, is the product of a high-level panel assembled by the UN Secretary-General in July 2018. "Digital cooperation" is defined as “the ways we work together to address the social, ethical, legal and economic impact of digital technologies in order to maximise their benefits and minimise their harm.”
The panel was particularly concerned with how digital cooperation intersects with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the report highlights the importance of reflecting “common human values” in the digital world, such as inclusiveness, human rights, transparency, and sustainability.
The resulting document highlights the interdependent nature of the digital age, and the impact of technological advances, such as low-cost computing, internet, and mobile. Noting that:
Directly addressing the issue of digital ID, the report notes the economic benefits for both individuals and countries. As evidence for the nationwide impact of digital ID, the report cites figures from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which demonstrated that digital ID systems could increase gross domestic product by between 3% and 13%.
However, the authors also caution about the potential human rights risks and potential for misuse. They note the possibility of certain groups being excluded from digital ID systems, or for civil society to be targeted, alongside the risk of data breaches.
The report goes on to explore the potential for a more cooperative digital future, inviting readers to sign up to "a Declaration of Digital Interdependence." The authors also offer a series of recommendations to help achieve this positive vision of a digital future. Their recommendations span five core themes: creating an inclusive digital economy and society; ensuring human and institutional capacity; upholding human rights and human agency; generating trust, security and stability; and supporting global digital cooperation.
Through this call to action, the UN report seeks to: