Digital Identity Can Be the Rails for a New Revolution

Omidyar Network
Dec 11, 2017 · 5 min read
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The Dangers of “Bad” Digital Identity

But while digital identity offers enormous potential benefits, when mishandled it can also cause tremendous harm. As digital identity becomes a prerequisite for engaging in modern society, those who are excluded from identity systems could become increasingly marginalized. At the same time, mandatory identity schemes can result in unintentional exclusion. Usage of digital identity to provide basic services, such as food rations or old age pensions, must create viable alternatives to ensure that no one is denied benefits if the technology were to falter. Identity systems can mitigate, create, or shift vulnerabilities, and this needs to be monitored carefully.

Omidyar Network begins work on Digital Identity

As a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to improve people’s lives, we at Omidyar Network want to ensure that identity systems are designed to expand economic and social inclusion for everyone.

Research Provides the Foundation for Omidyar Network’s Work

On the research front, we commissioned international development organization IDinsight to study the deployment of identity systems and to understand their impact on people in India. That work resulted in a State of Aadhaar report, which highlighted critical knowledge gaps in the public’s understanding of the large-scale identity program.

Omidyar Network’s Point of View on Digital Identity

In February 2017, we joined a broad coalition of global partners led by the World Bank’s ID4D initiative to endorse the Principles for Identification for Sustainable Development. These shared beliefs recognize that individuals “are at the center of identification systems and have the right to know and exercise appropriate control over how their data is collected, used, stored and shared.”

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Positive Returns

Working to create a world of positive returns