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The UN’s Legal Identity Task Force: Opportunities and Risks

– Privacy International

  • Explainer
  • Posted by Good ID team (Good ID)
  • 24 March 2020

A look at the UN’s efforts to implement legal identity for all, and the care that needs to be taken to ensure their work does not justify repressive forms of surveillance and control

This article outlines the UN Legal Identity Task Force’s support for giving every person a unique ID number at birth, which would link information about them throughout their lives. Privacy International warns this would enable governments to exclude marginalized people and groups from accessing vital services.

“If you build these capabilities of surveillance and exclusion into the civil registration system, it so closely integrates them into the functioning of the state that they may never be untangled.”

The article argues that the Task Force must bear in mind the potential for centralized identity systems to be harnessed for human rights abuses, and learn from harmful ID systems which have been established around the world.  

They must also use their skills and expertise to develop the civil registration and vital statistics infrastructure of the countries in question in a way which protects fundamental rights, and empowers and serves people. This way, and by being explicit in the dangers posed by this work, they can make the world a better place.

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