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Digital Identities: A Political Settlements Analysis of Asymmetric Power and Information

– SOAS Anti-Corruption Evidence Consortium (ACE)

This paper looks into the different levels of risk associated with digital ID systems in developing countries, in contrast to developed ones

The report notes that while it’s possible for digital identities to have a positive effect in many societies, in countries with, for example, authoritarian governments, people’s data can be harnessed for dangerous ends.

“In some applications, the use of digital identities can shift the balance of power further against already excluded groups.”

The authors argue that for ID systems to contribute to people’s welfare, rather than further threaten their human rights, the specific political situation of individual countries must be carefully considered.

In the context of ethnic and religious conflicts and contestations over citizenship, digital identities can be used to deprive targeted groups of access to banking, public-sector jobs, land transactions and the operation of sim cards, allowing coercive repression for political ends that, in extreme cases, can facilitate ethnic cleansing at the push of a button

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