Photo: Unsplash / Hans-Peter Gauster

Digital ID: Why It Matters, and What We're Doing About It

– The Engine Room

The social change-makers at The Engine Room make a compelling case for broadening the digital ID debate – and explore how it has a very real impact on our lives

In a rallying call to bring a more diverse group of voices to the digital ID discussion, Zara Rahman makes the case that "digital identity is more than a digital rights issue".

From the impact identification can have for freedom fighters in Bangladesh to sex workers in Senegal, they illustrate both the positive potential and the serious challenges it brings.

At the heart of their approach is a dialogue that seeks to reach a cross-section of society. As they say:

What would a digital identification system look like that makes life easier for everyone, including the most marginalized groups in our society? And who needs to be meaningfully involved at every step in the conversation for those changes to happen?

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Rahman points out why this is a conversation we need to have now, and the scale of what's at stake:

The way in which identity is recognised (or not recognized) can decide how we participate in civic life, or it can even determine your access to food. In short, these systems hold the power to fundamentally change the way in which we are ‘counted’ or ‘seen’ by states – and the level of surveillance we are subject to. Or, if done well, it can increase the level of agency we have in deciding how we represent ourselves in different situations.

Zara Rahman, Engine Room

The team are also looking for input and collaboration, so do check out their blog or get in touch via research@theengineroom.org.