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Updated MOSIP digital ID system is truly multilingual, supported for up to 5 years

Developers discuss upgrades hoped to keep attracting countries to adopt
Updated MOSIP digital ID system is truly multilingual, supported for up to 5 years

After a quiet launch in February 2022, the team behind MOSIP 1.2 Long-term Support (LTS) Release known as ‘Asymmetric Amoeba’ explained the advantages for national digital identity programs in a release webinar.

The developers have incorporated feedback from six countries where the open-source modular system is in use to create a version which can handle any number of languages and will offer support for “three to five years” which they hope will encourage countries to upgrade from 1.1.5 or adopt the digital ID system in the first place.

The not-for-profit project began at the not-for-profit university IIIT-Bangalore in 2018. Version 1.0 was released in 2020 and countries began experimenting and sandboxing, explains Professor S Rajagopalan, with the Philippines putting it into practice later that year and early 2021.

Morocco was second to go live and has been followed by Sri Lanka, Guinea, Togo and Ethiopia is making preparations. ‘Asymmetric Amoeba’ was first mentioned around the same time as the latter agreement.

Nagajaran “Naga” Santhanam, who heads country implementation and works with partners such as biometrics providers, says he receives calls on a bi-weekly basis from identity management agencies in Africa that are interested in adopting the system. Six or seven new countries are already in the pipeline.

He says that version 1.2, the first long-term release is not a simple tech update as it incorporates learnings from the six countries, industry expert consultation and will allow countries to work on a long-term basis as they can be confident they will receive all future upgrades, patches and retooling.

Ramesh Narayanan, the project’s CTO, says the latest version is easier to manage and deploy and is even more interoperable, a key feature of the system which aims to avoid vendor lock in.

Multilingual and anonymous profiling for easier digital ID rollout

“We literally support N languages,” says Sasikumar Ganesan, the technologist responsible for many of the updates and security and who gives a demonstration of the updates.

The system allows an ID agency to set up as many languages as they wish. They can choose one or more as a mandatory language where a record will be kept in that language, such as an official language.

Staff using a system can select their language and registrants can choose a language to go through enrolment, and specify preferences for the language they will receive future communication in.

“Identity is completely without a soul if language is not attached to the identity,” says Ganesan.

MOSIP 1.2 has added support for verifiable credentials via W3C standards and secure biometric interfaced standards. Asymmetric Amoeba integrates with OpenCRVS for updates from the civil registry. Programming languages are being updated with Java 8 now phased out (in favor of Java 11). New tracing functions will bind digital identities to transaction which will be able track them across web service boundaries. This function is “90 percent there” says Ganesan.

A new anonymous profile facility has been developed following feedback from the Philippines. The function allows reporting and modelling that is anonymized in terms of registrants, but gives insight into what categories have (or have not) enrolled so far, via age, gender and location.

Overall, the team hopes for a system that is easier for its operators and end-users, has improved interoperability with other systems. The fact that the approach is not simply the technical side but incorporates policy, process and inclusivity, argue the team, alongside the benefits of open-source, should help more countries make the shift to MOSIP.

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