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21 OCTOBER 2019

Manushya Foundation joined AccessNow and a group of civil society organisations, technologists, and experts who work on digital identity developments across the world, in submitting this Open Letter to the leaders of International Development Banks, the United Nations, International Aid Organisations, Funding Agencies, and National Governments.


This Open Letter aims to raise voice on protecting identities in the digital age and asks the basic question of Why ID? 

It then addresses issues related to our digital identity programmes:

  • as most digital identity programmes follow a centralised and ubiquitous model, they do not deliver incremental benefits to users; 

  • high profile cases have demonstrated that these programmes can create the risk of 360 degree profiling and surveillance of users by governments and private actors with access to the databases associated with such programmes; 

  • the mandatory nature of most digital identity programmes leads to exclusionary outcomes; 

  • marginalised populations are being affected the most.

Considering all the issues stated above, the proliferation of digital identity programmes is deeply concerning and human rights must form the centre of all considerations related to digital identity programmes.

With this Open Letter the undersigning organisations expect international, regional, and national leaders to address this issue. Those who promote digital identity programmes must thoroughly answer these questions, and follow human rights-centric approaches to identity. Each identity programme has an inherent requirement of trust from the user. Trust can only be built on the foundation of transparency and accountability. Trust can only be built when systems are designed to promote, empower, and protect the rights of citizens across the world. And that is exactly what the main objective of all policymakers should be. 

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