Editorial

Why a place like Bangladesh needs effective Digital Identity

“With its potential for portability, Digital ID presents one possible solution for helping to cope with the challenges of mass internal migration and the wider need to provide proof of ID”

Posted 4 November 2019 by

The developing world could really do with some good Digital Identity solutions. The problem? Deciding what exactly such a ‘good’ ID solution looks like.

That’s the intriguing thesis of a new opinion piece on Devex, the Washington, DC-based global news and recruitment space for the aid sector.

“Digital ID is becoming an increasingly crucial piece of infrastructure”

In a piece entitled ‘The case for “good” digital identity’, a case is made for why Digital Identity could be a game-changer for countries like Bangladesh in terms of better managing climate-crisis related internal population and re-employment challenges.

It would especially help, argue the three co-writers, who come from both the country or involvement in the UN’s on-going ID2020 Alliance programme, around gaps in paper ID: “While some people have proofs of identity in the form of birth registration or a national ID, many do not have physical identification documents or have lost them during the disasters that forced them to migrate.”

Hence their argument that, “With its potential for portability, digital ID presents one possible solution for helping to cope with the challenges of mass internal migration and the wider need to provide proof of ID… a consensus is emerging that Digital ID is essential to the economic empowerment, and digital and financial inclusion, of billions of people.”

But, as stated: what does the right answer look like? After all, they warn, “Digital ID is becoming an increasingly crucial piece of infrastructure, but we have to chart a careful course to ensure it is implemented in a way that avoids the perils experienced with other cutting-edge technologies.”

For these authors, the answer has to lie in a proper collaboration between technologists and policy-makers – and on an on-going basis.

“Building rigorous systems requires us to confront, head-on, the practical and ethical challenges that Digital ID presents, with two main points of action: first, supporting the development and implementation of new, acceptably robust technologies; and second, influencing policy and coordination among multiple digital ID providers in public and private sectors.

“Introducing digital ID programs in a timely and ethical manner depends on sustained, transparent collaboration and advocacy to achieve its broader societal adoption.

“To get digital ID right, we must work together to resolve the tension between the urgency of the desire for digital ID, and the need for solutions that protect users and their data,” they conclude.