Editorial

Digital Identity: Global Roundup

Digital identity news from around the world

Posted 27 September 2021 by Christine Horton


Nigeria

The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has instructed all federal agencies collecting personal and biometric data for different purposes to put in place a unified database before general elections in 2023.

This Day newspaper reports that the Nigerian leader gave the directive through his Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Dr. Isa Pantami, during a recent ceremony in Abuja to mark this year’s International Identity Day.

Pantami said the President wanted this done before the end of his mandate, while also reiterating the importance of having a comprehensive biometric database in place. In this light, he called on all agencies and institutions collecting personal data to henceforth work in harmony with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

Jamaica

A Jamaican trans right activist has said the latest version of the country’s draft digital ID bill could create considerable risks by “outing” trans Jamaicans.

The proposed national identity card would require any Jamaican who wants to apply for an ID to give authorities documentation showing their sex assigned at birth, which would be displayed on the back of the card. The bill gives only a binary choice to Jamaicans whose gender identity does not correspond with the sex on their birth certificate.

But Renae Green says this exposes trans Jamaicans to possible discrimination and violence while they use the card in their daily lives, reports Rappler.

“For a lot of trans people who are in the process or have transitioned, they just want to be able to exist and go about their business. What that looks like for a lot of people is not having to disclose their trans status,” she said. “The bill opens us up to be outed.”

Green’s objections to the bill are part of a wider range of concerns — from privacy to human rights — surrounding the island nation’s biometric National Identification System (NIDS) as it heads into a likely vote in Parliament this month.

Canada

Three-quarters of Canadians feel it’s important to have a secure and privacy-enhancing digital ID to safely make transactions online.

A survey from Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) has also revealed that most Canadians believe it is important for federal and provincial governments to move quickly on enabling digital ID in a safe and secure manner.

The Ontario government, in a virtual conversation with the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) on Ontario’s digital future, has finally revealed information about the technology and standards that the province will use to build its digital identity ecosystem.

Over the past nine months, the province says it has consulted with 68 organisations, more than 100 industry experts, and held five two-hour roundtable discussions on digital identity.

As one of the first jurisdictions in North America to publish this information, Ontario says Digital ID, when fully launched later this autumn, will allow people and businesses to prove who they are both online and in person with built-in safety features that protect users’ privacy and personal information, as per IT World Canada.

Bangladesh

The Daily Star reports that the country’s bureau of statistics (BBS) plans to begin collecting demographic and biometric data of citizens in order to issue a 16-digit digital identification number to them.

In a recent National Population Register workshop, the planning minister and the state minister of planning discussed privacy issues around the project, and disclosed that a timeline shall be published regarding the completion of the process.

World Bank statistics put the population of Bangladesh at over 164 million people.

Philippines

As of September 9, there were a total of 30,043,249 Filipinos who had already completed their Step 2 registration for the PhilID card which entails capture of biometric information such as fingerprints, iris scans, and front-facing photographs, according to a press release from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The PSA hailed Filipinos for the feat despite COVID quarantine restrictions imposed on physical gatherings.

Biometric capture continues in cities and municipalities with less restrictions, and citizens have been called upon to continue to show up in strict respect of measures put in place by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

More than one million persons have already collected their PhilID and the PSA announced recently that it is also working to launch the mobile version of the biometric card.