Exclusion and Inclusion in Identification: Regulation, Displacement, and Data Justice

– Information Technology for Development

In this paper, Aaron Martin and Linnet Taylor explore the power digital identification systems exert over the vulnerable populations in humanitarian settings that such systems purport to protect

Martin and Taylor apply the lens of data justice to academic papers, policies, and programs related to humanitarian identification systems for displaced and stateless people.

“This paper explores customer identification regimes in two country contexts in which large displaced populations are present: Uganda and Bangladesh. The two cases reveal divergent approaches to regulating refugee identification: while Uganda's policy environment has recently become more inclusive, Bangladesh's proves to be particularly restrictive. We reflect on what these cases mean for the future development of digital identity systems by the humanitarian sector and the implications for data justice.”

Through the case studies in Uganda and Bangladesh, Martin and Taylor explore the consequences of political, commercial, and nonprofit intervention in state systems that aim to identify refugees.

Ultimately, workable solutions are likely to focus on identification that is linked to citizenship rights and protection, although in the short term noisier, more commercial projects are gathering the attention. The points of overlap between national and refugee-specific ID provision studied here are both problematic because they create grey areas and uncertainties, and positive because they are indications that ID may be able to operate in similar ways for citizens and non-citizens

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