Digital Community Reaches Consensus on UN’s Identity Goals

February 20, 2017

Blog

Marta Ienco, Head of the Government & Regulatory affairs, Personal Data  

marta-ienco-headshot-v2Analyses of the potential of the global digital economy often conclude that advanced economies have the most to gain from digital technology. For example, the World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Information Technology Report 1016’ names 34 of 35 OECD nations in their list of top 50 countries most likely to reap the benefits of emerging technologies and capitalize on the opportunities presented by digital transformation. In contrast, such examinations suggest digital technology will have relatively less impact on infrastructure and services in developing countries. Why? Recent research has found that identity is crucial to accessing next generation services and that developing countries, with their disproportionately high number of unregistered people, are less able to support digital services.

Research by the Evans School Policy Analysis Research Group reveals a number of ways in which identity programmes can support a developing country’s functions and services. Their research found that functions such as elections, finance, health, security and agriculture can all benefit enormously from the presence of identity schemes but that programmes are potentially obstructed barriers of cost, coverage, data management, privacy and harmonisation.

The importance and implementation of identity in a digital environment in developing countries is the subject of the World Bank’s recent report ‘Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Towards the Digital Age’. The report aims to fulfill objective 16.9 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): ‘by 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration’. To achieve this, the paper calls on governments, international organisations, donors and private-sector partners to adopt principles to strengthen legal identification systems and reform paper-based identification systems to digital ones.

The ten principles aim to create inclusive, secure, and trustworthy identification systems that can empower individuals and enhance their access to rights, services, and the formal economy. Endorsed by the World Bank, the GSMA and a wide array of high profile digital and developmental organisations, it lays the foundation for a common approach for how the world’s 1.5 billion unregistered people can obtain an identity in a trustworthy manner.

Broadly speaking, these principles require that identity solutions have universal coverage and accessibility, a secure and sustainable design and protect consumer rights and privacy.

One digital identity solution which meet these requirements is the operator-led solution, Mobile Connect. It is well positioned to serve developing nations for a number of reasons. By using mobile networks, Mobile Connect offers extensive coverage and can be integrated with existing national identity infrastructure and include both old and new devices for the users. It also has a proven track record to enable global interoperability and cross-border use.

Mobile Connect will be the centrepiece of this year’s Mobile World Congress where it will feature in a number of keynote speeches, seminars, and demonstrations inside the event’s Innovation City. You can find out more about the event and to register for seminars here.

Download the report

Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Towards the Digital Age is endorsed by: Asian Development Bank (ADB), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Center for Global Development (CGD), Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), GSMA, International Organization for

Migration (IOM), Mastercard, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe / Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE ODIHR), Plan International, Secure Identity Alliance (SIA), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the World Bank Group.

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